May 24, 2014

H-2A rocket launched, puts Earth-observation satellite in orbit

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TANEGASHIMA ISLAND, Kagoshima Prefecture—An H-2A series rocket lifted off on May 24 and placed into orbit a satellite capable of peering into volcano crater engulfed in smoke, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

The rocket blasted off at 12:05 p.m. from JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center, and the H-2A Launch Vehicle No. 24’s solid rocket boosters separated two minutes later.

After 15 minutes, the space agency confirmed that the primary payload, the Daichi-2 advanced land observation satellite, reached its intended orbit about 600 kilometers over the Pacific Ocean.

The Daichi-2 is the successor to Daichi, which recorded movements in the Earth’s crust caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.

Using advanced radar technology, the Daichi-2 is expected to contribute significantly to Earth observation sciences, monitor disasters and explore for natural resources.

The No. 24 rocket also carried four small-sized satellites developed by Tohoku University, Wakayama University, Nihon University and a private company.

It was the 18th straight successful launch of an H-2A rocket, increasing its success rate to nearly 96 percent.

Since the launch of the No. 21 rocket in 2012, the H-2A series has lifted off on schedule four consecutive times.

The first H-2A rocket lifted off in 2001. With the exception of the sixth launch in 2003, all subsequent launches have been successful.