Japan to launch 2nd pair of spy satellites

Japan to launch 2nd pair of spy satellites

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Japan’s second pair of spy satellites will be launched Saturday aboard an H-2A rocket following three postponements in September, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on Thursday.

The set of four orbiters — two optical-sensor satellites and two radar satellites — is designed to monitor any point on Earth once a day. The Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center in Tokyo is in charge of their operations.

The rocket for sending the second pair to orbit is to lift off at 1:33 p.m. (0433 GMT) from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, according to JAXA, formed in October through a merger involving the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) and two other space entities.

The agency will check weather conditions before giving the final go-ahead, JAXA said, since strong winds of up to 32 kilometers per hour are forecast and gusts of up to 54 kph are likely. Winds with maximum speeds of over 53 kph could push the rocket into the gantry and damage it.

On Thursday, JAXA staff carried out final preparations for the rocket at the center and checked radio communications.

Japan launched its first pair of spy satellites in March this year. The launch of the second pair was scheduled for Sept. 10 butwas postponed to Sept. 22 and Sept. 27 due to technical problems. The third delay was due to trouble with the H-2A rocket.