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Japan launches astronomy satellite
Posted: Wed, Feb 22, 2006, 7:43 AM ET (1243 GMT)
M-5 launch of Astro-F (JAXA) An M-5 rocket successfully launched a Japanese astronomy satellite early Wednesday, the second launch in less than a week for the Japanese space agency. The M-5 rocket lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center at 4:28 pm EST Tuesday (2128 GMT Tuesday, 6:28 am JST Wednesday) and deployed the 950-kilogram Astro-F satellite about eight and a half minutes later. The spacecraft, renamed Akari ("light") after launch, is operating well, although JAXA announced in a statement that a problem with the spacecraft's sun sensor had prevented the spacecraft from getting into the proper attitude; the spacecraft is instead using an Earth sensor and gyroscopes to get into the proper orientation. Akari is an infrared astronomy satellite, carrying a 70-cm telescope and two instruments. The launch is the third this year for JAXA, more than in all of 2005, and the second in less than a week.
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