Japan readies navigation satellite for launch
BY STEPHEN CLARK
Posted: September 11, 2010
An H-2A rocket is fueled on the launch pad for blastoff Saturday with a spacecraft to improve satellite navigation services in Japan's cities and rural mountains.
The 174-foot-tall rocket is scheduled to lift off at 1117 GMT (7:17 a.m. EDT) Saturday from Launch Pad No. 1 at the Yoshinobu complex on Tanegashima Island, the site of Japan's primary spaceport off the southern coast of the main islands.
The launch will occur at 8:17 p.m. Japanese time. The launch window extends for 59 minutes.
It will take 28 minutes, 26 seconds for the H-2A rocket to deliver the Michibiki satellite to orbit.
Michibiki will test a new Japanese concept to augment Global Positioning System navigation signals and increase positioning accuracy in urban canyons and mountainous regions. Buildings and terrain in such areas can block the line-of-sight from ground receivers to GPS satellites, reducing the system's accuracy.
Below are some photos taken about 13 hours before liftoff as the H-2A rocket rolled from Tanegashima's Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad.