Japan launches new spy satellite

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Tokyo, Feb 1: Japan today successfully launched a back-up spy satellite, its aerospace agency said, after cancelling an earlier lift-off due to bad weather.

Tokyo put spy satellites into operation in the early 2000s after its erratic neighbour North Korea fired a mid-range ballistic missile over the Japanese mainland and into the western Pacific in 1998.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries delayed Thursday's planned launch of the H-2A rocket from Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, due to the possibility of lightning during lift-off.

The launch at 10:21 am (local time) today was successful, JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy said, adding, "We confirmed the rocket launched normally."

Four Japanese intelligence satellites are currently in orbit - two optical satellites and two radar satellites. The backup satellite will supplement the two radar satellites, a government official said earlier.

AFP

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