The Japanese H-IIA space rocket, operated by the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries industrial concern and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is considered one of the most reliable launch systems in the world. Recently, it has once again managed to confirm its reliability by launching the new QZS-1R navigation satellite into the outer space. This facility will soon replace the Michibiki 1 (QZS-1) satellite launched in September 2010.
The start took place on October 26 at 11:19 local time, from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwest Japan. It was delayed by 24 hours due to unfavorable weather conditions. About 28 minutes after take-off, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced that the QZS-1R satellite was successfully disconnected from the rocket’s upper stage, heading for a designated orbit more than 30,000 km above Earth.
This is another step towards the creation of the planned satellite network consisting finally of seven navigation satellites, ensuring undisturbed and precise positioning in Japan (especially in mountainous and highly urbanized zones, where peaks and buildings allow uninterrupted signal transmission only vertically). Currently, the QZSS constellation consists of four satellites (QZS-1, QZS-2, QZS-3, QZS-4): one in geostationary orbit (GEO) and three in elliptical geosynchronous (quasi-zenithal – QZO) orbits. The set of QZSS satellites is to enable more accurate ground positioning in the Asia and Oceania region.
The first QZSS satellite launched into space, Michibiki 1, was launched on September 11, 2010, also with the help of the H-2A rocket. Later, in 2017, three more satellites were launched, extending the constellation to four objects.
The new QZS-1R launched will work with the rest of the constellation’s satellites to complement the US GPS satellite network. The system will provide more precise positioning and timing services in the Asia-Pacific region, e.g. for autonomous cars and drones.
Michibiki 1R was designed for 15 years of operation and, together with the other satellites in the constellation, will orbit Japan. The satellite will occupy an operational orbit tilted 40-45 degrees to the equator. The QZS-1R will remain active at its zenith position relative to the Japanese Islands for approximately eight hours each day.
Japan is developing three more QZSS navigation satellites to be launched into orbit by the end of 2023. The extensive fleet of seven spacecraft is to provide Japan with full navigational coverage over its territory.
The launch of the H-IIA carrier system with the QZS-1R satellite on board was the 38th launch of this rocket since its debut in 2001. Since 2003, Mitsubishi Industries has launched payloads as important as the Venus (Akatsuki) and Mars (Emirates Mars Mission) research probes. The next H-IIA rocket is to be launched in December this year. with a commercial communication instrument for Inmarsat, a global provider of data transmission and telecommunications platforms and services, incl. for the communication of sea-going ships or airplanes.
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Japanese navigation satellite QZS-1R successfully launched