Japan's contingent at Farnborough could soon be celebrating a $1.28-billion deal with two US companies for 15 launches of the H2 booster.

Mitsubishi-led Rocket Systems, which markets the launcher, is in final negotiations to carry 15 Hughes and Loral communications satellites after 2000.

The launcher will be an improved version of the current model, being shown at the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies area in Hall 2, called the H2A.

This will use a new Mitsubishi LE-7 cryogenic engine and better Nissan solid rocket boosters.

The modifications are being made to make the H2 a more commercially-viable launcher.

Its current launch tag of $170 million - a result of its excessive $3.2 billion development costs - is far too high to make it competitive. Arianespace offers flights for half that cost.

Hughes Space and Communications hopes to finalise a $910-million contract for ten launches starting in 2001, while Space Systems/Loral wants five launches beginning in 2000.

Like other leading communications satellite manufacturers, Loral and Hughes are ensuring that they have guaranteed launch capability for their future customers by booking several launch vehicles.

Hughes has booked 11 launches on the McDonnell Douglas Delta 3 and ten flights on the Sea Launch, being developed by Boeing. Loral wants five flights on the Sea Launch.





Source: Flight Daily News