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Japan launches satellites, eyes space business

Japan launched a satellite to monitor greenhouse gases along with seven smaller satellites in a mission that could boost business for the country's cash-hungry space programme.

world Updated: Jan 23, 2009 09:52 IST

Japan launched a satellite on Friday to monitor greenhouse gases along with seven smaller satellites in a mission that could boost business for the country's cash-hungry space programme.

The H-2A rocket, carrying the biggest number of satellites ever for a Japanese rocket, took off from the tiny island of Tanegashima 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo, after a delay of two days because of poor weather.

The main satellite will enable scientists to calculate the density of carbon dioxide and methane from 56,000 locations on the Earth's surface, which Japanese officials hope will contribute to global efforts to tackle climate change.

The mission is also a test for Japan as it sets its sights on the satellite-launch business in the face of competition from Europe, the United States and Russia, as well as newer entrants such as China and India.

(Reporting by Chisa Fujioka)