Japan to launch 3rd satellite in August to enhance GPS

A H-IIA rocket, carrying a Michibiki 2 satellite, one of four satellites that will augment regional navigational systems, lifts off from the launching pad at Tanegashima Space Centre on the southwestern island of Tanegashima, Japan, June 1, 2017. (Kyodo photo via Reuters)

Japan will put into orbit a third satellite in August to enhance the precision of its global positioning system, the Japanese space agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd said Thursday.

An H-2A rocket carrying the government’s quasi-zenith satellite Michibiki No. 3 is scheduled to be launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on Aug 11 between 2pm and 11pm, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy.

The new satellite will be placed in a geostationary orbit for purposes such as locating people during disasters.

Another Michibiki satellite, used to determine locations of objects on Earth, is also set to be launched later this year, according to the government.

The new additional satellites will work in tandem from fiscal 2018 with Michibiki No. 1 and No. 2, launched in 2010 and earlier this month, respectively, and complement a US satellite network that Japan had previously fully depended on.

The government aims to increase the number of satellites in orbit to seven in fiscal 2023. Once the “Japanese GPS” is created, smartphone users will be able to receive more accurate information on locations shown in their map apps.

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