Japan Reschedules Quasi-Zenith Launch

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Japan is targeting Sept. 11 for the launch of Michibiki, the Quasi-Zenith timing and navigation satellite that missed an early August launch to allow for the replacement of a possibly faulty spacecraft component.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said Aug. 4 that the suspect component, a reaction-wheel assembly built by Honeywell Aerospace of Phoenix, has been replaced, clearing the way for a launch from the Tanegashima Space Center atop a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-2A rocket.

Honeywell notified affected satellite customers in mid-June of a contamination concern with a shipment of specialty grease used to lubricate ball bearings inside the reaction-wheel assemblies. Testing was undertaken to determine whether the grease was flight-worthy despite containing a contaminant not certified for use in orbit.