Japan Orbits Third Satellite for Regional Navigation System

A H-IIA rocket carrying the Michibiki 3 satellite lifts off from the launching pad at Tanegashima Space Center. Photo: Kyodo/via Reuters.

A H-IIA rocket carrying the Michibiki 3 satellite lifts off from the launching pad at Tanegashima Space Center. Photo: Kyodo/via Reuters.

The Japanese government successfully launched its third geo-positioning satellite Michibiki 3 on Saturday, according to Reuters. The launch, which took place at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, follows a week-long delay due to a technical glitch.

Manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric, the Michibiki 3 satellite flew atop an H-2A rocket. It is the third asset Japan has orbited for its Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), a four-satellite network the country has developed to narrow location information accuracy down to the centimeter.

Japan intends to launch the fourth satellite in the network, Michibiki 4, in late 2017 and will begin offering location information next April.

Japan developed QZSS to augment the existing GPS constellation, the signals of which are sometimes blocked by the country’s skyscrapers, resulting in multipath errors. The satellites in the system will fly in a figure-eight loop over Japan, with at least three satellites visible at all times from the region. According to the Japanese government, it will eventually expand the constellation to a total of seven satellites to further improve position information in urban and mountainous areas.

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