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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 February 2007, 08:44 GMT
Japan launches new spy satellite
The lift-off in the Kagoshima prefecture on 24 February 2007
Japan began its satellite programme in 2003

Japan has launched its fourth spy satellite, which will give it the capability to monitor any location around the globe.

An H-2A rocket carrying the satellite lifted off from a base in southern Japan at 0441 GMT, officials said.

Tokyo began launching spy satellites in 2003, after North Korea fired a missile over Japan's main island in 1998.

Japan sees itself as one of the top targets of the Communist state, which last year tested a nuclear bomb.

Satoki Kurokawa, a spokesman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa), said the lift-off from the remote base was a success.

Once the satellite is in orbit, Tokyo will be able to spy on any location in the world, officials say.

The rocket also carried an experimental optical satellite that Tokyo hopes to use in the future to improve the quality of satellite images.

Before the launch, Japan already had three spy satellites in orbit. Two others were lost when a rocket failed in November 2003.

The launch also came a month after China destroyed an old weather satellite using a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile.


SEE ALSO
Japan launches new spy satellite
11 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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05 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Launch takes Japan back to space
26 Feb 05 |  Science/Nature
Japan scuttles two spy satellites
29 Nov 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Japan's spy satellites
28 Mar 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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