• Kyodo

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Japan on Tuesday successfully launched a replacement for its aging first-ever quasi-zenith satellite into orbit, which has been working to provide accurate global positioning data for services such as autonomous driving cars and drones.

The new satellite produced by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. will replace the Michibiki No. 1 satellite, which was launched in 2010 and has reached the end of its design life.

The new satellite will work with three previously launched Michibiki satellites and complement the existing U.S. satellite network.

An H-2A rocket carrying the satellite lifted off at 11:19 a.m. from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. The satellite entered into planned orbit about 30 minutes after the launch.

The satellite was previously scheduled to be launched Monday, but it was postponed due to bad weather.

It marks the 38th consecutive time Japan successfully launched an H-2A rocket since the first in 2005.

The government plans to increase the number of satellites in orbit to seven in fiscal 2023 to enhance Japanese GPS with more precise global positioning system services.

The H-2A rocket carrying the satellite is 53 meters long and weighed around 290 tons at the time of launch.

Japan launched its fourth quasi-zenith satellite in 2017, creating a system to provide precise global positioning system services starting in fiscal 2018.

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