Satnews Daily
February 27th, 2018

Japan Launches a Secretive Optical ISR Satellite

A Japanese H-IIA rocket carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite was launched on Tuesday from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.


The optical reconnaissance satellite will be used for monitoring developments at North Korean missile launch facilities and increases the number of the nation’s reconnaissance satellites to seven. The government is aiming to raise the number of operating reconnaissance satellites, consisting of radar and optical types, to a total of 10 in number.

The H-IIA F38 rocket was launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

The radar satellites are not affected by weather conditions and can see through clouds, allowing for nighttime photography. Optical satellites capture images of the ground as the human eye does.

The Japanese government does not release satellite imagery except for when there is a natural disaster. When it releases data on disaster-hit areas, the government downgrades image quality so as not to reveal the capabilities of the satellite.