Japanese success with ALOS

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have successfully launched their Advanced Land Observing Satellite “Daichi” (ALOS) – on board their H-IIA Launch Vehicle.

The launch was twice postponed, with last night’s attempt scrubbed due to incompatibility of ground monitoring system for satellite fairing air-conditioning temperature. However, the launch was successful this evening at 8:33pm Eastern – 1:33am UK time.

The Japanese are eager to move up a gear with space flight, as they try to keep up with their neighbours in China. The first launch attempt was originally set for the early hours of January 19 (UK time), but was postponed due to a malfunction in one of the telemetry transmitters.

The previous problem – which caused the postponement to what would have been today’s launch - has been fixed, after JAXA engineers investigated the malfunction, replaced the problematic transmitter, and verified the new transmitter will be good to go.

‘The rocket separated from the satellite smoothly. We consider the launch a success,’ said Masao Nagashima, a spokesman for the space center.

The ALOS satellite launched on the H-IIA rocket ‘has been developed to contribute to the fields of mapping, precise regional land coverage observation, disaster monitoring, and resource surveying,’ according to JAXA.

‘It enhances land observation technologies acquired through the development and operation of its predecessors, the Japanese Earth Resource Satellite-1 (JERS-1, or Fuyo) and the Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS, or Midori).

‘ALOS has three sensors: the Panchromatic Remote-sensing Instrument for Stereo Mapping (PRISM), which is comprised of three sets of optical systems to measure precise land elevation; the Advanced Visible and Near Infrared Radiometer type 2 (AVNIR-2), which observes what covers land surfaces; and the Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR), which enables day-and-night and all-weather land observation.’

Live update thread, with links to webcast and background information:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=1326&start=1

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