The Daily Manila Shimbun


2nd Japanese GPS satellite launched successfully

June 1, 2017

TANEGASHIMA, KAGOSHIMA PREF. The second satellite aimed at realizing Japan's version of the Global Positioning System was successfully launched on Thursday, with the government planning to send up two more within this year.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, launched an H-2A rocket carrying the Michibiki No. 2 satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, at 9:17 a.m. (12:17 a.m. GMT).
The government satellite entered its target quasi-zenith orbit after being separated from the rocket about 28 minutes after the liftoff.
The satellite system is designed to realize positioning accuracy of a few centimeters to several tens of centimeters by using data received by electronic reference stations set up across the country by the Geospatial Information Authority. It will also complement the GPS, helping reduce positioning errors in the US system to around one meter.
Thanks to its orbit almost directly above Japan, the Michibiki No. 2 will help reduce areas where radio waves are difficult to reach, such as locations between tall buildings and in mountains.
As a quasi-zenith satellite can cover Japan for only about eight hours a day, at least three such satellites are necessary for around-the-clock coverage.
The Cabinet Office plans to supply positioning data from April 2018 using four satellites--the first Michibiki, which was launched in 2010, the Michibiki No. 2, and the two more to be lifted off later this year. One of the upcoming satellites will be put into a geostationary orbit.
"The four-satellite system will help expand application areas, such as automated driving, agriculture and construction," space policy minister Yosuke Tsuruho told a press conference at the Tanegashima Space Center. "This is a technology with great potential."
The government expects the Japanese high-precision positioning satellite system will help create a market worth over 2 trillion yen.
Devices such as the iPhone 7 smartphone of Apple Inc. are necessary for receiving signals from the Michibiki system.
Experimental projects using the first Michibiki satellite have involved a wide range of companies, including Forte, a startup in the northeastern Japan city of Aomori, which develops a pedestrian navigation system and assistance devices for visually impaired people.
Japan is aiming to operate seven positioning satellites in fiscal 2023, to make its system fully independent from the GPS. (Jiji Press)