Japan successfully launches reconnaissance satellite


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Japan’s space agency JAXA today successfully launched a reconnaissance satellite for the Japanese government.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the H-2A rocket’s main contractor, did not provide a live video webcast of the mission. But news media and other spectators near the launch pad streamed the launch live online, and announcements over loudspeakers at the Tanegashima press site confirmed separation of the IGS Optical 6 satellite in orbit.

The spacecraft’s specifications, including its imaging performance, are kept secret by the Japanese government. But the government has acknowledged the satellite will join a fleet of Information Gathering Satellites operated by the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center, which reports directly to the Japanese government’s executive leadership.

The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:

7 China
4 SpaceX
3 Japan
2 ULA
2 Russia

There have been 21 launches in the first two months, continuing January’s pace that suggests we will see more than a hundred launches in 2018, the highest number since 1990.

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