, India —

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,


of the H-2A launch vehicle

, intends to aggressively look for customers in Asia to increase a

business that currently is limited

to a few government missions a year.

“We require at least four launch orders per year from our government to meet the high cost of developing technologies to provide state-of-the-art service,” Shoichiro Asada, general manager of the company’s space systems department, said Sept. 26 while speaking at the International Astronautical Congress here.

“But the number of missions is limited in Japan.”

Asada said the Japanese government buys an

average of two launches a year, but

not at a stable launch rate “because there will be only one mission some years or four missions in some years.”

So the company has to fill the gap with commercial missions for foreign customers, Asada


Asada told Space News in an interview that in 2008 Mitsubishi

expects to supplement the single government launch order

with two commercial launches. He did not give details.

Asada said

that after having achieved a leadership position in launch vehicle technology, “it is required for us to discuss how to sustain the Japanese space industry.”