Japan Successfully Launches Reconnaissance Satellite into Orbit

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An H-IIA rocket is launched at the Tanegashima Space Center in Minamitane, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Friday afternoon.

The H-2A Launch Vehicle No. 48 carrying the government’s Information-Gathering Satellite “Optical-8” blasted off at 1:44 p.m. Friday from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. The launch was marked a success after the satellite separated from the rocket and went into orbit.

An Information-Gathering Satellite (IGS) is de facto a reconnaissance satellite which monitors military facilities in North Korea and elsewhere but is also used to assess disaster-stricken areas.

There is a total of 10 IGS currently in operation, including optical satellites that capture high-resolution daytime imagery and radar satellites that can take images at night and in bad weather. The Optical-8 was launched as a successor to an optical satellite currently in operation beyond its design life.