Japan Launches Rocket With South Korean Satellite

TOKYO (AP) — A rocket has lifted off in Japan in the country’s first commercial launch of a foreign satellite — one from South Korea designed to monitor the environment.

A H-2A rocket lifts off from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, early Friday, May 18, 2012. JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. successfully launched a South Korean satellite into space aboard the rocket, local media said. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

The HII-A rocket lifted off from a remote southwestern Japan island carrying the South Korean satellite and three Japanese satellites.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a private company in charge of HII-A rocket production since 2007, is hoping to compete with the U.S., Russia and Europe as a launch-vehicle provider.

The Korean satellite, KOMPSAT-3, was developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute to monitor the environment. The rocket also carried Japan’s Shizuku satellite to monitor climate change and two smaller Japanese satellites.