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Japan keen to own navigation satellite system

Japan: Japan is considering launching new satellites to establish its own global navigation satellite system (GNSS) in a bid to reduce its reliance on GPS network. The country aims to make it 10 times more accurate than GPS, The Daily Yomiuri reports. The satellites would be of the same type as the so-called quasi-zenith satellite, Michibiki, or of a geostationary type.

The project is being drafted by the Strategic Headquarters for Space Development headed by Naoto Kan, Prime Minister, Japan. The government is likely to finalise the plan in August, 2011.

The project is expected to cost as much as 200 billion yen and it will be public-private venture. Hence, the government plans to submit to the next ordinary Diet session a revision bill for the private finance initiative (PFI) law.

The US network was originally devised for military purposes. Therefore, there is a possibility that radio wave transmissions even for private use will be obstructed by a third nation in times of emergency, affecting civilian life and economic activities.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched Michibiki satellite in September to cover the blind spots not covered by the 30 GPS satellites. If the Japanese version of the GPS is used together with that of the United States, it will be possible to reduce the margin of error in car navigation and other services from the current 10 meters to less than a meter.

The life span of a Japanese satellite is estimated at 15 years. Taking this into account, the government will pay 13 billion yen a year in usage fees to private businesses after revising the PFI law.

The envisaged development of a more accurate GPS will enable automated operations of agricultural machines at large farms and heavy-duty machinery at construction sites as well as contribute to the safety of railway and aircraft transport operations. It also may open up new business opportunities in such fields as exploration of natural resources and disaster prevention.

Source: www.yomiuri.co.jp