Japanese b'cast satellite lost


TOKYO - A broadcasting satellite owned by Japan's Sky Perfect Jsat Corp. has been lost after the Russian rocket that was to deploy the satellite experienced an engine malfunction after launch Thursday morning.

The Jsat-11 craft was designed to act as a back-up to the eight existing broadcasting and telecommunications satellites that the company operates.

"As it was a back-up, its loss will only have an indirect effect on our operations and we are now considering whether to launch a replacement," said Tomonari Niimoto, general manager of the public relations division of Sky Perfect Jsat Corp.'s holding company.

"The launch of the satellite, as well as the craft itself, was insured and we think that the effect on the results of the company will be very minor," Niimoto said.

The cost of the vehicle and its launch is estimated to be as high as Y30 billion ($263 million).

The satellite was launched from the Baikonur Space Center early Thursday, in the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, but the second stage rocket motor failed to ignite.

International Launch Services, the Russian company that organized the deployment, has told Sky Perfect Jsat that it is carrying out an investigation to determine what caused the problem. At present, it is not clear whether the craft has been destroyed or is in an incorrect orbit.

The satellite that Jsat-11 was designed to provide back-up for is expected to remain operational until 2009, the company said.