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Japan puts third GPS satellite into orbit

Sep 9, 2017
Tokyo, Japan on Saturday launched a rocket and put the third of its new quasi-zenith satellites into orbit to help improve the precision of the global positioning system. The launch from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima prefecture came a week later than originally scheduled due to a technical problem in the rocket, Xinhua news agency reported.

The H-2A rocket was launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and carried the Michibiki No.3 which is part of a four-satellite constellation.

The satellite went into the planned orbit around 2.57 p.m. (local time). Michibiki satellites are used to determine locations of objects on earth and the system’s first satellite was sent into space seven years ago, and the second was launched earlier this year.

The fourth one is scheduled for October. The new satellite system will be officially put into use next year and complement a network of US satellites that Japan previously used for its GPS needs. According to informed sources, GPS, which is owned by the US, has a margin of error of about 10 meters when it comes to global positioning.

When Michibiki and GPS are working in tandem, however, that margin is said to be reduced to just a few centimetres.

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