Japan launches reconnaissance satellite IGS-Radar 6

Yesterday at 13:20 JST (GMT+9), Japan’s space agency JAXA successfully launched IGS-Radar 6, a reconnaissance satellite that will add to its Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) series.

The launch took place at Tanegashima Space Center using Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ (MHI) H-IIA No. 39, JAXA’s medium-lift liquid-fuel launcher that can put up to 6,000kg into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) and approximately 15,000 kg into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

JAXA neither announced the launch schedule nor the success of the launch, but MHI confirmed that the launch went smoothly and the satellite was successfully separated.

IGS-Radar 6, a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, will complement imaging satellite IGS-Optical 6, launched earlier this year on February 27. Together, they form the IGS-6 series of Japan’s military reconnaissance satellites; each IGS iteration since the launch of IGS-1A in 2003 has seen an optical-radar twin satellite pairing. The satellite, like its predecessors, was built by Mitsubishi Electric, and is the 16th IGS satellite launch.

Like all IGS-series satellites, IGS-Radar 6 will be operated by the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center (CSICE), which is part of Japan’s intelligence agency the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office (Naicho) that reports directly to the Prime Minister.

This launch, subsequent to the IGS-Optical 6 launch in February, was JAXA’s fourth launch of the year and the second using MHI’s H-IIA. The previous two launches, before IGS-Optical 6, used the modified sounding rocket SS-520 No. 5, and JAXA’s lightweight Epsilon rocket.

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