November 29, 2009

5th Spy Satellite Launched By Japan

Japan launched a next-generation spy satellite on Saturday as part of efforts to beef up its surveillance system against the threat of North Korea's missiles.

An H-2A rocket carrying the nation's No. 3 Information Gathering Satellite was launched on Saturday morning from Tanegashima Space Centre on Tanegashima island, southwestern Japan, the officials said.

Hisashi Michigami, an official at the Cabinet Office, says, "The satellite will gather intelligence for our defense and diplomatic purposes. We hope to upgrade our ability to gather intelligence on our own. Intelligence gathering is vital to our national security."

'We successfully separated the satellite from the rocket and put it into orbit,' said Toshimitsu Ozeki, an official of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which built the rocket.

Japan has long relied on the United States for intelligence. But it launched its first pair of spy satellites in 2003, prompted by concerns over North Korea's missile program.

North Korea shocked Tokyo in 1998 when it test-fired a missile over Japan. Since then, Japan has launched spy satellites primarily to watch developments in North Korea.

In April this year, a North Korean long-range rocket flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

Japan currently operates two optical satellites and a radar satellite and is planning to add another radar satellite by March 2013 to complete the system so that it will be able to monitor designated places on the Earth once a day.


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