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Japan successfully launches military reconnaissance satellite

Japan today successfully launched a military reconnaissance satellite.

This was Japan’s fourth launch in 2018, putting it ahead of India and Europe in total launches this year.

17 China
11 SpaceX
6 Russia
4 Japan

The U.S. and China remain tied in the national standings.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

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  • Zed_WEASEL


    Are you seriously considering the Japanese SS-520-5 flight to be classified as an orbital launch for your Japanese total of 4? The thing can only carry up to a maximum of 4 kg to LEO!

  • Zed_Weasel: It made it to orbit, so it counts as a launch. Considering the coming boom in cubesats, the development of a small rocket like this could bring enormous benefits to Japan, if they can get the technology into the private sector.

  • Edward

    Records of rocket launches tend to focus on the number of launches. Many list the number and names of satellites that were lofted, but few care about the mass of the payloads, either as individual satellites or as the aggregate launched to space. Few care about the usefulness of the payload or whether it is an inert mass on a test launch.

    Note that wikipedia highlighted February’s SS-520 launch as “becoming the lightest and smallest orbital launch vehicle ever.

    The space community considers an orbital launch to be an orbital launch, whether or not it only lifted a single 4kg 3U cubesat or a 140 tonne manned Moon mission. Had this launch failed, as did last year’s attempt, then it would have been recorded by many of those who keep records as a failed launch attempt — sometimes with an explanation of why it failed. Orbit need not be achieved for it to be recorded by most, although I think that Robert is only counting successful orbital launches, not failed attempts.
    The Japanese SS-520, a suborbital sounding rocket modified for orbital flight, failed to reach orbit in January. If successful, it would have become the smallest and lightest vehicle to ever put an object in orbit.
    Mechanical friction between an electrical wire and cable cut-out on the Stage2/3 interface caused abrasion of the cable insulation, leading to a short circuit between the cable & grounded vehicle structure. The resulting loss of signal from the experimental launch vehicle led to the flight being aborted after first stage burnout.

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