January 5, 2011

Japan Launching Its Own GPS Satellites

Officials said on Wednesday that Japan is considering launching new satellites to establish its own global positioning system (GPS) in an attempt to reduce its reliance on the U.S. navigation network.

Japan launched a rocket carrying its first satellite intended to improve GPS systems used in the country by motorists for navigation as well as by aviation and maritime operators.

An official said that the government's space development strategy headquarters, headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, is now discussing plans to launch more satellites.

"There is a proposal that our country should secure its own GPS as it is now fully relying on the US system," the official said.

"The new system may also open our opportunity for marketing GPS services to other Asian countries," he said, adding that the government plans to reach a final decision by August.

The Yomiuri Shimbun daily reported on Wednesday that Japan decided to launch six to seven new satellites in order to establish its own navigation system by 2014 and 2015 to cover the entire Asia-Pacific region.

The mass circulation said that Japan could raise the degree of precision of car navigation systems 10-fold by using both the new satellites and American GPS.

It said that the government plans to charge private GPS operators about 158 million each year for using the system as it would cost over $2.4 billion to launch six satellites.