Japan launches new spy satellite

Dec 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: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan launches new spy satellite

Sep 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

Nov 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

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

Dec 19, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

Dec 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Dec 19, 2014

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 0

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.