Eye in the Sky: Japan Launches Spy Satellite Into Orbit
13:11 26.03.2015(updated 13:13 26.03.2015)
Japan successfully launched a rocket carrying a backup optical satellite for the government's intelligence gathering program.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. launched the H-2A rocket with an advanced ground-monitoring satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, Kyodo news agency reported Thursday.
The launch at 10:21 am (0121 GMT) went smoothly, a JAXA spokeswoman said, noting 'the satellite separated and entered orbit as scheduled.'
Currently, Japan has two radar satellites and two optical satellites in operation, which are able to collect images of any point on the ground at least once a day.
The latest satellite will replace one of the two optical satellites launched in 2009. It was developed at a cost of 32.5 billion yen ($272.2 million), according to the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center.
Five Japanese intelligence satellites are currently in orbit–two optical satellites and three radar satellites, including a backup radar satellite launched in May.
An additional fourteen probes of various types are slated to be sent into orbit within the next three years.
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