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Japan Places Eighth Reconnaissance Satellite in Orbit

By | June 13, 2018
H2A Tanegashima Space Center

An H2A rocket launching from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center. Photo: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Japan has put another satellite into orbit to gather intelligence for national security purposes, as reported by NHK. An H2A rocket carrying the intelligence-gathering satellite lifted off from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima, southern Japan, on Tuesday. It put the satellite into orbit some 20 minutes later, however, other launch details have not been disclosed with the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which carried out the launch, citing security reasons.

The de-facto reconnaissance satellite is designed to capture images of the Earth’s surface from hundreds of kilometers up.

Japan operates two types of satellites. The optical type use high-performance cameras to take images during the day, while the radar satellites take photos at night and in bad weather using radio waves. The latest launch was of a radar-type satellite, according to NHK.

The Japanese government uses the satellites to monitor North Korea’s missile-launching facilities and to assess the extent of damage in disasters among other things.

Japan now has eight intelligence-gathering satellites in orbit. Six are in operation and an optical-type satellite launched in February is currently being prepared to go into operation. Together, the satellites ensure every part of the Earth is covered at least once a day. The government plans to increase the number of reconnaissance satellites in orbit to 10.