National / Science & Health

Japan launches H-IIA rocket carrying intelligence-gathering satellite

Kyodo

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on Tuesday launched an H-IIA rocket carrying a radar-type intelligence-gathering government satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The reconnaissance satellites will be used for such purposes as monitoring military facilities in North Korea and taking images of areas affected during natural disasters.

JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. launched the H-IIA F39 rocket from the agency’s launch site on the island in southwestern Japan.

The government operates four radar satellites, which capture radio waves reflected from the ground, and two optical satellites, which take photos of the ground using a device similar to a digital camera.

Its goal is to eventually operate 10 satellites in total, including relay satellites.

Tokyo marks the images as classified, except for those taken during natural disasters. When they are published, the government downgrades the image quality so as not to reveal the image-capturing capacity of the satellites.