Japan’s JAXA space agency has reported the successful deployment of an IGS radar reconnaissance satellite, a second Japanese defence payload coming less than two months after the launch of the DSN 2 military communications satellite on 24th January.
An H-2A launcher lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Centre at 1:20 AM UTC carrying the IGS-Radar 5 observation satellite for the Japanese Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Centre (CSICE). It was the 46th launch of an H-2A and the 20th for the 202 version with two solid rocket boosters. The satellite was due to be placed in a low polar orbit at around 500km and an inclination of 97.4°.
Built by Mitsubishi Electric (Melco), IGS-Radar 5 is the twelfth member of the Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) series of optical and radar observation platforms, initiated in 2003 to monitor military activities in neighbouring countries, particularly North Korea.
It is the sixth radar satellite in the series and the first fourth-generation platform. The launch comes two years after IGS-Radar Space, which went into orbit in January 2015. Japan has not supplied any details concerning the satellite’s technical characteristics, though images are estimated to have a resolution of 50cm.
The H-2A is scheduled to perform four additional missions this year, including the launch of IGS-Radar 6, but the exact launch dates have yet to be announced.