JAPAN SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHES INTELLIGENCE-GATHERING SATELLITE

Tokyo, - Japan successfully launched a rocket carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite Friday after postponing its launch the previous day due to bad weather.

The H-2A rocket carrying the reconnaissance "Radar 5" satellite, with a capacity to shoot photos even at night or in bad weather, was successfully placed in orbit the morning after taking off from the Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island, southwestern Japan, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said.

Japan once failed to launch a H2-A rocket but has been successful 27 times in a row since 2005, raising its success rate to 96.9 percent, Japan's news agency Kyodo reported.

The latest satellite, which cost 37.1 billion yen ($327 million) to develop and 10.6 billion yen to launch, will replace "Radar 3," which has reached its designated lifespan of five years.

Japan currently operates six intelligence-gathering satellites -- two radar satellites, a spare and three optical satellites with advanced cameras suited for capturing images in daytime.

At least one image of any spot on Earth can be captured presently, but the government is aiming to increase the number of reconnaissance satellites in operation to 10, including two data-relay satellites, to boost photographing frequency.(QNA)

Source: Qatar News Agency