Launch Updates - Analytical Graphics, Inc.

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New Launch: 2011 September 23, 0436 UTC
Site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
Launcher: H-2A
International Designator(s): 2011-050A
SSC Name Owner
37813 IGS 6A JPN

"A spy satellite for the Japanese government rode an H-2A rocket into orbit Friday, replenishing a fleet of secret spacecraft designed to keep track of missile development in North Korea.

"The classified spacecraft lifted off on a 174-foot [53.0-m]-tall H-2A rocket at 0436 GMT (12:36 a.m. EDT) Friday, or 1:36 p.m. local time at Tanegashima Space Center, Japan's primary launching base off the southern coast of the main islands.

"The two-stage H-2A rocket, boosted by twin strap-on solid rocket motors, pitched south of Tanegashima and thundered into a cloudless blue sky on the way to orbit. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said the flight was a complete success.

"The secret satellite, built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp., is circling Earth in a sun-synchronous orbit with an altitude of more than 300 miles.

"The spacecraft was a more than $500 million payload outfitted with an optical camera and telescope to supply imagery to the Japanese government for intelligence, defense and civilian remote sensing applications. The spacecraft will become an operational member of Japan's optical spy satellite fleet.

"Japan established the space-based reconnaissance program after North Korea fired a test missile over Japanese territory in 1998. The country's spy satellites have become increasingly more advanced since then, but officials have provided no official specifications on the satellite launched Friday.

"The most advanced Japanese reconnaissance satellites likely provide imagery with a resolution less than a meter."

Source: Spaceflight Now, "Japanese spy satellite in orbit after successful launch"

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