Auckland (AFP) May 11, 2000 - Kiribatis government has given final approval to Japan's National Space Development Agency (NASDA) to build a spaceport on remote Kiritimati or Christmas Island, the regional Pacnews agency reported Thursday.
NASDA will have a seven year lease free period on Kiritimati followed by a 13 year lease at a baseline fee of 1.3 million Australian dollars (949,000 US) per year.
The Japanese space shuttle, code-named Hope-X, involves launching a singe stage H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Centre on Tanegashi Island off the southern tip of Kyushu Island, southern Japan), and landing it on a runway on Kiritimati.
The Hope-X would be a smaller version of the final full scale version which will land on a runway like the US Space Shuttle.
The Kiritimati region is set to become a major player in commercial space operations. Already the Sea Launch project, a joint Boeing-Russian-Norwegian company, has fired satellites from a floating platform to the south of the island.
Kiritimati, near the Equator, was the site in the 1950s of British and US atomic tests. Its a place of colourfully named villages: Banana, London and Poland.
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