Successful launch of H-IIA with IGS-Optical 5 satellite!

On March 26 (UTC), 2015, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) conducted successful launch of H-IIA launch vehicle with IGS-Optical 5 reconnaissance satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit from Tanegashima Space Center.

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency logo

The mission was the second Japanese launch and the second launch of Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) this year, after a successful launch of H-IIA with IGS-Radar Spare spacecraft on February 1, 2015.

IGS program was started in 1998 as a Japanese response to raising number of North Korean missile tests in the region. It was reported that along with satellites' main mission to provide early warning of impending hostile launches in the neighborhood, they also serve for civil natural disaster monitoring. IGS program is operated by Japan's Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center, which reports directly to the government's executive leadership, and consists of optical and radar imaging spacecraft.

Artistic view of IGS 1a and 1b classified satellites
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Being constructed by Mitsubishi Electric Company (MELCO), IGS-Optical 5 is equipped with high-definition optical camera that can reportedly achieve a ground resolution of better than 0.5 meters. This is the 14th satellite in IGS series but only 7th to become operational – 2 spacecraft were lost in a launch failure in November 2003, 2 satellites were suffered problems in orbit and were decommissioned ahead of time, and the 3 rest satellites were retired as per schedule.

H-IIA launcher that orbited IGS-Optical 5 was made in '202' configuration with two strap-on boosters aside. Heavier version of H-IIA rocket named '204' is configured with 4 strap-on boosters. This launch was the fourth for H-IIA family of rockets for the last 6 months, which is the highest frequency of missions in its history.

H-IIA rocket configurations. Credit: JAXA
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Overall, the mission marked 28th launch of H-IIA and its 22nd success straight. The next launch of a Japanese rocket is scheduled for August 2015, when heavy H-IIB rocket poised to deploy Kounotori 5, also known as HTV-5, unmanned cargo spacecraft on its way to supply the International Space Station. Till the end of 2015 two more launches of H-IIA expected as well.

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