The maiden flight of the Japanese H2A booster may face a further delay of over a year as the launcher's uprated first stage LE-7A cryogenic engine, which suffered a liquid hydrogen leak during a test firing in July, is redesigned.

The maiden flight of the H2A was originally set for February, but then delayed by a year. The launch was due to carry the European Space Agency's (ESA) Artemis communications satellite free of charge as part of an ESA-NASDA agreement to jointly use the satellite. But it has been dropped from the test flight, which will not carry a payload.

The test flight is to be a confidence-boosting demonstration for Japan's National Space and Development Agency (NASDA) and for potential future customers of the Mitsubishi-led Rocket Systems.

The H2A is a lower cost replacement of the H2 satellite launcher, which did not attract commercial customers.

Meanwhile, Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science has given up hope that it can recover the Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics X-ray satellite, formerly known as Astro D and launched in February 1993. The satellite went out of control in Earth orbit on 15 July after a solar storm.

Source: Flight International