A Japanese reconnaissance satellite will ride to orbit Tuesday aboard the country’s H-IIA carrier rocket. Liftoff, from the Tanegashima Space Centre, is scheduled for a fourteen-minute window opening at 12:34 local time (04:34 UTC).
Tuesday’s launch will deploy IGS Optical 6, part of the optical imaging component of Japan’s Joho Shushu Eisei (JSE) – or Information Gathering Satellites (IGS) constellation.
The IGS system consists of both optical and radar imaging satellites, with the programme led by Japan’s Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Centre. The project began in the late 1990s, after North Korea attempted to launch its first satellite – Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1 – with the rocket overflying Japan during its ascent. Although Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1 failed to achieve orbit, the launch demonstrated that North Korean missiles could reach Japan and prompted the Japanese government to step up monitoring of potential threats.
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IGS Optical 6 will be the fifteenth Information Gathering Satellite to launch – a number which includes two prototype optical imaging satellites, and a pair of spacecraft which were lost in a November 2003 launch failure. As of late last year, the operational IGS constellation was reported to consist of two optical satellites ...