Japan launches fourth Michibiki satellite for hi-tech GPS
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched Michibiki-4 satellite (QZSS-4) onboard of H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Centre.
It was fourth satellite in Michibiki series i.e. Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), which is a satellite-based high-precision global positioning system similar to US operated GPS. Moreover, it was 36th H-IIA vehicle to be launched so far and fifth launch of an H-IIA rocket in 2017.
Michibiki-4 is third QZSS satellite to be launched in 2017 and once operational it will bring the constellation of QZSS to its operating capacity of four until a planned expansion to 8 satellites occurs around 2023.
Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS)
It is own version of GPS and is dubbed as Michibiki system. Michibiki means guidance in Japanese. It is intended for civilian use, with a claimed positioning accuracy down to mere centimetres. The QZSS constellation of 8 satellites will trace out a figure-8 pattern over Japan, the Western Pacific, and Australia.
The Michibiki system can cover the Asia-Oceania region and works with the US-operated GPS to provide higher level of precision than previously possible with fewer satellites in visible range. It will become operation in 2018 with four satellites focusing on country and wider region. It will provide global positioning and timing services across frequencies ranging from 1575.42 MHz to 2 GHz.
The H-IIA rocket is Japanese large-scale launch vehicle. It was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The vehicle stands 53 meters tall and generates 1.7 million pounds-force (7,628 kilonewtons) of thrust at liftoff.