The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) says the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-built H-IIA vehicle F10 is to be launched from the agency's Tanegashima space centre on 10 September.

With no payload announced, the Japanese Rocket and Space (RSC)-managed launch will be the fourth since the failure of the H-IIA F6 in 2003. If the H-IIA F10 launch is successful it will be the first time JAXA has achieved three launches in one year since 2002.

The H-IIA F6 failure on 23 November 2003 was the result of the vehicle's failure to jettison one of its two solid rocket boosters (SRB) and it had to be destroyed. The subsequent investigation discovered that an SRB jettison fuse failed because it had been subjected to exhaust gases due to a failed SRB nozzle.

The next H-IIA launch was on 26 February 2005, after which the vehicle's SRBs were retrieved from their splashdown for analysis of the new SRB's performance. The following return-to-flight launch on 24 January lofted Japan's Advanced Land Observing Satellite. The second flight, on 18 February, carried the government's Multi-functional Transport Satellite 2 into orbit.

Two weeks after the launch of F10, on 23 September, JAXA and RSC will launch the Solar-b probe from the Uchinoura space centre, using the M-V Launch Vehicle 7.

Source: Flight International