Japan launches new spy satellite

December 12, 2011
This file photo shows a Japanese H-2A rocket lifting off from the launchiung pad at the Tanegashima space centre in Kagoshima prefecture, Japan's southern island of Kyushu. Japan launched a new spy satellite into orbit on Monday amid concerns over North Korea's missile programme and to monitor natural disasters in the region. The satellite was carried by a similar, H-2A, rocket.

Japan launched a new spy satellite into orbit on Monday amid concerns over North Korea's missile programme and to monitor natural disasters in the region, officials said.

The Japanese H-2A rocket carrying an information-gathering radar satellite lifted off at 10:21 am (0121 GMT) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan.

"The rocket was launched successfully," said Toshiyuki Miura, a spokesman for , which built the satellite and worked on the launch with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

"The satellite was separated into orbit around the Earth later," Miura added.

The government decided to build an intelligence-gathering system after North Korea launched a missile in 1998 that flew over the Japanese archipelago and into the Pacific, shocking many in Japan.

In defiance of international pressure, launched what was believed to be a three-stage Taepodong-2 missile in April 2009, with an estimated range of 6,700 kilometres (4,100 miles).

Japan has three operating optical satellites. Two radar ones were successfully placed into orbit but both broke down later. Another optical satellite was launched in September but is not yet functioning.

Demand for land surveillance grew meanwhile after Japan's March 11 quake and tsunami, which killed some 20,000 people and crippled cooling systems at the Daiichi , northeast of Tokyo, causing reactor meltdowns.

"The project is aimed at boosting security and monitoring land in case of sizable like the one in March," a government official said, adding that the current three satellites were used to track the March calamity.

"If everything goes smoothly, it will be the first radar satellite under the programme," the official said. "With the radar satellite, we can introduce wider usage of the system."

Radar satellites are able to capture images at night and in , something that optical satellites cannot.

The latest satellite cost some 39.8 billion yen ($512 million) to develop, while the launch cost about 10.3 billion yen, Kyodo News reported.

JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy had originally planned to launch the satellite on December 11 but it was postponed due to bad weather.

Explore further: Japan launches new spy satellite

Related Stories

Japan launches new spy satellite

September 23, 2011

Japan launched a new spy satellite into orbit Friday, officials said, in its latest effort to beef up surveillance against the threat of North Korean missiles.

Japan launches 5th spy satellite

November 28, 2009

(AP) -- Japan launched its fifth spy satellite into orbit Saturday in a bid to boost its ability to independently gather intelligence, the government said.

Recommended for you

'Pandora's Cluster' seen by Spitzer

September 29, 2016

This image of galaxy cluster Abell 2744, also called Pandora's Cluster, was taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. The gravity of this galaxy cluster is strong enough that it acts as a lens to magnify images of more distant ...

Rosetta: The beginning of the end

September 29, 2016

Europe was poised to send its Rosetta spacecraft on Thursday toward a crash landing on the comet it has stalked for the last two years, joining robot lander Philae on the icy dustball's surface for eternity.

Scientists investigate unidentified radio sources

September 28, 2016

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers led by Andrea Maselli of the Institute of Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics of Palermo, Italy, has conducted an observational campaign of a group of unassociated radio sources with NASA's ...

The frontier fields: Where primordial galaxies lurk

September 28, 2016

In the ongoing hunt for the universe's earliest galaxies, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has wrapped up its observations for the Frontier Fields project. This ambitious project has combined the power of all three of NASA's ...

Research resolves a debate over 'killer electrons' in space

September 28, 2016

New findings by a UCLA-led international team of researchers answer a fundamental question about our space environment and will help scientists develop methods to protect valuable telecommunication and navigation satellites. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.