Friday, January 23, 2009

Japan Successfully Launches Ozone Satellite

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency today successfully launched an H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center - located on an island off of southern Japan.

The H-IIA carried a climate payload which Japan will use for measuring the earth's ozone layer. Known as the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT), the payload lifted-off at 12:54 pm local Japan time today (8:54 pm EST on Thursday evening) aboard the 174-foot tall H-IIA F15. This was the rocket's the 15th flight.

Sixteen minutes and one second later, the payload separated from the rocket's upper stage while over 8 degrees N, 132 degrees E. The upper stage then continued on and deployed seven separate smaller satellites as it flew a trajectory south and west over western Australia and south over the coast of Antarctica.

Inclement weather forced a two-hour launch delay. The rocket flew through clouds as it leapt from it's seaside launch pad.

 The H-IIA is a forerunner to the upcoming H-IIB rocket which will support important Japanese missions, including cargo transport to the international space station and to the Moon. A test flight of the new H-IIB is slated for this year.

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