TOKYO — Japan launched two satellites into orbit Wednesday, using for the first time a Japanese-built rocket that burned liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel, the National Space Development Agency of Japan said.
The rocket, called H-1, took off from the Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island, off Japan's southern main island of Kyushu, agency spokesman Michihisa Hagiwara said.
Neither the United States nor Western Europe can currently launch communications satellites because of accidents involving the U.S. space shuttle Challenger and the European Ariane rocket.
Privately Financed Satellite
The Japanese rocket launched a privately financed amateur radio satellite, JAS-1, which is expected to stay in orbit for about three years, said Takenobu Kaieda of the Japan Amateur Radio League Inc. The satellite will allow amateur radio operators to send messages around the world by storing the messages until they are retrieved.
The second satellite, which was paid for by the Japanese government, will be used for experiments involving magnetism and remain in orbit for about five years, Hagiwara said.
The next launch is scheduled for January or February.