Launch of H-IIA No. 18
Image Credit: JAXA/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
|The H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 18 (H-IIA F18) with the “Michibiki” on-board was launched on 11 September at 11:17 UTC (8:17 PM – Japan Standard Time) from the Tanegashima Space Center. The launch was uneventful, and, at 28 minutes and 27 seconds after liftoff, the Michibiki was separated from the H-IIA.
The Michibiki is the first of three satellites in a quasi-zenith satellite system (pdf) for GPS navigation within Japan’s mountainous terrain and vertical cities. The three satellites will be spaced equally along an eccentric figure eight orbit, so that one satellite is always high above Japan. The center of the small, northern lobe is over Japan, and the second, large lobe is over Australia. The apogee altitude is about 39,000 km, and the perigee altitude is about 33,000 km.
The system is designed to work in cooperation with the United States GPS satellite system, and receivers will acquire signals from both systems.