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TOKYO (AP) -- A rocket has lifted off in Japan in the country's first commercial launch of a foreign satellite - one from South Korea designed to monitor the environment.

The HII-A rocket lifted off from a remote southwestern Japan island carrying the South Korean satellite and three Japanese satellites.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a private company in charge of HII-A rocket production since 2007, is hoping to compete with the U.S., Russia and Europe as a launch-vehicle provider.

The Korean satellite, KOMPSAT-3, was developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute to monitor the environment. The rocket also carried Japan's Shizuku satellite to monitor climate change and two smaller Japanese satellites.

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