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Japanese Spy Satellites Target Korea

Posted January. 09, 2006 03:16,   


Japan will launch two more reconnaissance satellites targeted at the Korean peninsula, the Kyoto News reported yesterday.

The two additional satellites will be placed in different orbits from the first two that began flying over Korea this year.

The Japanese reconnaissance satellite system consists of an optical satellite system and a radar satellite system, and two satellites operate as a team. If the second units are added, the photographic frequency of the Japanese surveillance will be increased from once every other day to once a day.

Japan had previously attempted an H2A rocket launch, developed by Japan itself, in December, 2003, but it failed because the satellite exploded. A re-launch was scheduled last year, but it was delayed due to the detection of a glitch in the satellite.

Japan has begun production of a third generation of satellites with remarkable discrimination capacity and plans to put them into service in 2009. The current satellites in operation have a capacity to identify objects within a meter in size. However, Japanese third-generation satellites are able to discern objects 50cm across, matching the capacity of U.S. commercial satellites.

After North Korea launched its Taepodong long-range ballistic missile, Japan decided to have its own spy satellites, not relying on the U.S. for surveillance information.

Kwang-Am Cheon iam@donga.com