Making its first flight in over a year, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA rocket will lift off from the Tanegashima Space Centre on Sunday with a reconnaissance satellite for the Japanese government. Liftoff is expected at [10:34 local time] ([01:34] UTC), during a five-minute launch window.
Sunday’s launch will deploy the IGS Optical 7 satellite for the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Centre, an agency of the Japanese government responsible for space-based surveillance. IGS Optical 7 is part of the Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) or Joho Shushu Eisei (JSE) system, consisting of spacecraft collecting optical and radar images of the Earth.
Japan began development of IGS in the late 1990s, following North Korea’s attempted satellite launch in 1998. Although the North Korean launch failed to reach orbit, the rocket carrying it crossed Japan during its ascent, sparking fears that North Korean missiles would be able to target the islands. With IGS, Japan aimed to develop an independent reconnaissance capability to monitor future threats. The constellation can also be used for disaster monitoring and other civilian applications by the Japanese government.
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All of Japan’s IGS satellites have been launched on the country’s own ...