Tim Furniss/LONDON

SPACE SYSTEMS/Loral is negotiating a $370 million deal with Japan's Rocket Systems for five flights between 2000 and 2005 on the new, uprated, H2A satellite launcher. The Japanese company already has a $910 million deal under negotiation with Hughes Space and Communications for ten launches, starting in 2001.

The boost for the uprated version of Japan's H2, which will have its first flight in 2000, comes as satellite manufacturers and operators scramble to ensure that they have a continuous capacity in the event of delays to any launcher.

In a $1 billion deal, Hughes and Loral have also booked launches on other untried vehicles. Hughes, which claims to be the world's leading communications-satellite supplier, has reserved 11 launches on the new McDonnell Douglas Delta 3 and ten lift-offs on the Boeing-led Sea Launch.

The Galaxy 11 satellite, Hughes' first HS-702 model, will be on the maiden Sea Launch in June 1998 (Flight International, 21-27 August), and the Galaxy 10 HS-601 will be on the first Delta 3 in the same year. Loral has also booked five Sea Launch flights between 1998 and 2001, in a deal worth about $500 million.

The original $2.3 billion H2 (which was Japan's first large, indigenously built, satellite launcher) had its first flight in 1994 and has since had three successful flights, but the cost is a prohibitive $172 million per flight.

Japan plans to reduce production costs by 50% and to have the new rocket ready within four years. The first version of the streamlined H2A will replicate the 2,000kg payload-to-geostationary-transfer-orbit capability of the original H2, but will be equipped with a new LE-7 first-stage engine. It will also be fitted with shorter and lighter Nissan solid-rocket boosters, as well as a new Mitsubishi LE-5B second-stage engine.


Source: Flight International