Only slightly more than a week since the launch of Michibiki-3, Japan’s space agency JAXA has announced the launch schedule for Michibiki-4.
According to JAXA, Michibiki-4, the fourth satellite in the Michibiki series, will be launched on October 10, aboard Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 36, the same launch vehicle used for other Michibiki launches. Like all of JAXA’s important launches, it will take place at Tanegashima Space Center.
This comes sooner than the Nov-Dec launch window that was expected, and gives JAXA an early start to completing its Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS). A satellite-based augmentation system, QZSS is slated to consist of seven satellites in total, but a minimum of four satellites is needed before the system can work.
The constellation is currently comprised of three orbiting satellites, and Michibiki-4 will be the fourth. This makes it the lynchpin that will determine whether the QZSS will be operational by 2018, according to plan.
Already, JAXA has suggested many uses of QZSS, including possibly offering its services to the private sector. For example, a recent joint venture between Mitsubishi Electric and 3 European companies, which sees the formation of a new company known as Sapcorda, intends to make use of QZSS’ Centimeter Level Augmentation Service (CLAS), a high-precision service that can augment GPS to centimeter-level accuracy.