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A microsatellite developed by the Fukui Prefectural Government in cooperation with local firms and research institutes will be launched on March 20 next year from Kazakhstan.

According to the prefecture, the launch of the satellite Suisen, meaning daffodils, a symbol of the prefecture, will mark the first satellite liftoff for a project led by a local government in Japan.

The prefecture said it plans to utilize satellite imagery in disaster management and tourism, among other fields.

A microsatellite co-developed by the Fukui Prefectural Government is scheduled to be launched in March 2021 from Kazakhstan. | FUKUI PREFECTURE / VIA KYODO
A microsatellite co-developed by the Fukui Prefectural Government is scheduled to be launched in March 2021 from Kazakhstan. | FUKUI PREFECTURE / VIA KYODO

The Russian launch vehicle Soyuz-2 carrying Suisen is set to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in central Asia for a sun-synchronous orbit 600 kilometers above Earth.

The launch of the microsatellite — about 60 centimeters in length and width, 80 cm in height and weighing about 100 kilograms — was initially scheduled between April and September this year, but it was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Suisen will be among four satellites to be launched on the Soyuz spacecraft together with the three others owned by Axelspace Corp., a space startup based in Tokyo.

Axelspace’s globe monitoring platform called AxelGlobe based on multiple microsatellites aims to eventually capture imagery of the entire planet on a daily basis. The company said Suisen will become part of the AxelGlobe infrastructure.

The Fukui Prefectural Government will benefit from a higher image capturing frequency of its areas of interest due to capacity sharing with other satellites, the startup said.

In 2016, the Fukui government started the satellite development project in cooperation with local companies such as textile-maker Seiren Co., and the Industrial Technology Center of Fukui Prefecture, to promote the space industry as part of measures against shrinking economic activities due to a declining and aging population.

The local government aims to build a base for the space industry by developing satellites with local manufacturing technology, boosting businesses based on satellite data and training personnel.

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