ISTANBUL – Amid tensions with Pyongyang over missile launches, Japan on Thursday launched a new intelligence-gathering satellite to monitor North Korea’s military activities.
Besides monitoring military sites of North Korea, the satellite will also improve the disaster response of Japan, according to Tokyo-based Kyodo News.
Japan’s latest satellite launch comes as the Korean Peninsula is witnessing heightened tensions after North Korea launched a volley of missiles and projectiles last year, while South Korea and the US cemented military ties with regular joint defense drills.
Some of the missiles and projectiles fell near Japanese waters.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which operated the No. 46 H2A rocket carrying the satellite, said it had entered its planned orbit.
The satellite was blasted off into space from Tanegashima Space Center in the southwestern Kagoshima province of Japan.
Poor weather had delayed the launch by one day.
“The radar satellite can capture images on the ground at night as well as at times when there are severe weather conditions. It can be used to relay data in the event of a natural disaster,” according to the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center.
The H2A series rocket, which measures 53 meters (174 feet) in length and has a 4-meter diameter, failed a mission in 2003 but has been successful since then. (Anadolu)