Japan’s ASTRO-F launches

by Chris Bergin

The Japanese space agency JAXA have launched their M-V Launch Vehicle (Flight #8) with the infrared astronomy satellite ASTRO-F, from the Uchinoura Space Center tonight.

JAXA had a successful launch at 21:28 UTC (4:28pm Eastern US), following yesterday’s scrub with just 15 minutes remaining in the count, due to rain over the space center.

Live webcast link, click image:

The successful launch makes it two launches in just over three days for JAXA, hot on the heels of Saturday’s H-IIA Launch Vehicle (H-IIA F9) from the Tanegashima Space Center, taking the Multi-functional Transport Satellite 2 (MTSAT-2) into a geostationary orbit.

Launch preview:

ASTRO-F has a 70 cm telescope,which is cooled down to -270 degree with liquid helium in order to suppress unwanted infrared radiation from the telescope itself. The spacecraft will be entered into a polar orbit along the twilight zone.

Previously known as IRIS (InfraRed Imaging Surveyor), this will be the second space mission for infrared astronomy in Japan. ASTRO-F is being developed by members of JAXA/ISAS and collaborators.

IRAS (Infrared Astronomical Satellite, launched in 1983 by the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands) carried out the first all-sky survey at infrared wavelengths and made a huge impact on astronomy.

The ASTRO-F mission is an ambitious plan to make an all-sky survey with much better sensitivity, spatial resolution and wider wavelength coverage than IRAS.

**Live launch coverage update thread**

SPACEFLIGHT L2 – Coming soon

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