TOKYO (AP) -- The first communications satellite made completely in Japan for commercial use was successfully launched into orbit Friday, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. said.
The Superbird-7 was fired into space from a launch pad in French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket made by the European consortium Arianespace, Mitsubishi said in a statement.
The five-ton satellite is the first fully domestically made commercial communications satellite launched by a private company, Mitsubishi said.
The satellite had entered a stationary orbit at 22,300 miles above the earth and will undergo testing until September, the company said.
The satellite, which will replace one launched in 1997, will provide satellite channels for cable television stations and relay international live broadcasts as well as broadband communications for aviation and maritime use throughout Asia, Mitsubishi said.
All 18 satellites previously launched by Japanese broadcast and communications companies were made in the United States.
Japan is racing to catch up with an emerging regional rivals China and India in space operations.