Japan’s government reportedly sent a reconnaissance satellite into orbit on Tuesday that’s designed to keep an eye on North Korean missile launches and other military activity.
The Yomiuri Shimbun says the satellite launch reflects Tokyo’s growing reliance on space-based monitoring systems to keep tabs on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile development program.
The newspaper said the satellite reached orbit as planned after the rocket — the H-2A Launch Vehicle No. 38 — blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture at 1:34 pm.
Yomiuri said it was Japan’s first launch of a reconnaissance satellite since March 2017. The country has launched a total of seven reconnaissance satellites. “Three of those are optical satellites that use cameras, and four are radar satellites that use reflected electrical waves,” Yomiuri said.
The main role of the reconnaissance satellites is to monitor North Korea’s military moves. Japan eventually plans to have a 10-satellite system made up of four optical and four radar satellites, and two that would transmit and receive data.
“This would give the government the ability to reliably photograph any spot on Earth multiple times per day,” the Yomiuri said.