Japan launches intelligence satellite

Tokyo: Japan Sunday launched a backup information gathering satellite (IGS), the country's first launch of this year.

The satellite is equipped with a radar spy instrument capable of peering through clouds, darkness and camouflage to obtain high-resolution imagery of the Earth's surface. But the satellite's exact capabilities were not disclosed, Xinhua reported.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. launched the spy satellite aboard a H-2A rocket from Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima prefecture.

The launch was previously scheduled for Jan 29 but adverse weather conditions delayed it.

Intelligence satellites are believed to be employed to monitor ground surfaces to gain information related to national security and disasters.

This is the sixth radar satellite and the 13th IGS, including two prototype optical satellites, since the country's first two IGS satellites were launched in 2003.

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