Japan launches data relay satellite to improve disaster response

Japan launches data relay satellite to improve disaster response

Japan on Sunday launched a rocket carrying two satellites to relay data collected by intelligence satellites already in orbit, enabling faster and richer communication when responding to natural disasters.

Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on November 29, 2020 shows the launch of the H2A rocket carrying the government satellite. (Kyodo)

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The H2A rocket, operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, was launched from the Thanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwest Japan, at 4:25 p.m.

Government Data Relay Satellite and Jaxa’s Optical Data Relay Satellite – The satellites entered their intended orbit 30 minutes later.

Both satellites will sit on the same unit and share basic components such as power source and control systems.

“We will make full use of information gathering satellites to strengthen our country’s national security and crisis management,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in a statement.

Relay satellites initially conduct experimental transmission of data obtained by data collecting satellites and send them back from their position in geostationary orbit via optical communication.

When in operation, they help to overcome the problem of data being received only for a limited time when each observation satellite has a direct view-line with a receiver on the ground.

Jaxa said that by sending information, including images and other information, through relay satellites, more observable satellites could be broadcast more efficiently and more efficiently.

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