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Japan launches spysat
Posted: Sat, Feb 24, 2007, 9:56 AM ET (1456 GMT)
H-2A launch on flight 4 (NASDA) An H-2A rocket launched a latest in a series of Japanese reconnaissance satellites on Saturday. The H-2A lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan at 11:41 pm EST Friday (0441 GMT Saturday) and placed the Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) into polar orbit. Few details about the launch were released by the Japanese government, but the spacecraft is believed to be a radar imaging satellite, similar to one launched in 2003. The H-2A also reportedly carried a prototype next-generation optical imaging satellite as well. Japan launched its first pair of optical and radar satellites in 2003, but a second pair were lost in an H-2A launch failure later that year. A new optical satellite was launched last year. Japan uses the reconnaissance satellites primarily to provide the government with independent observations of North Korea. The launch had been scheduled for earlier this month but was delayed by poor weather at the launch site.
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