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TOKYO, March 26. /TASS/. Japan successfully launched an intelligence satellite on Thursday, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reported.
The backup optical satellite for the government’s intelligence gathering program was taken to orbit by the H-2A heavy launch vehicle, Kyodo news agency said.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. launched the H-2A rocket with an advanced ground-monitoring satellite at 10:21 a.m. from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima Prefecture, south-western Japan, the agency said.
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 that was launched in 2009. It was developed at a cost of 32.5 billion yen ($272.2 million), according to the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Centre. Images taken by the intelligence satellites include fishing boats believed to be Chinese ships engaged in coral poaching, according to the centre. Information obtained and images captured by the satellites will not be publicly released as they are designated as state secrets under a law that took effect last year, Kyodo reported.
The new satellite is equipped with an optical sensor and radar that will monitor the Earth’s surface at night and in bad weather conditions. The main task of the satellite will be monitoring missile launches from the territory of North Korea (DPRK). The satellite will also be used for collecting meteorological data.
In early January 2015, the Japanese government a new 10-year programme for the development of the national space technology, as well as raising the level of security and reliability of the industry. In the next 10 years it is planned to increase the capitalisation of the national space industry up to $42 billion.