The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 18 (H-IIA F18) has launched with the First Quasi-Zenith Satellite “MICHIBIKI” – meaning “guiding” or “showing the way.”- from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC) on Saturday. Launch occurred at 11:17 GMT.
The H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 18 is a “H2A202” model with two solid rocket boosters (SRBs). The fairing design is 4S (4 meters in diameter.) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. is in charge of the launch service of the H-IIA.
Launch was delayed around a month due to JAXA finding a potential concern in the onboard reaction wheels of the MICHIBIKI spacecraft, following notification from an overseas manufacturer.
The role of the spacecraft is to test a new Japanese concept to augment Global Positioning System navigation signals and increase positioning accuracy in urban canyons and mountainous regions.
“Quasi-Zenith Satellite As mobile phones equipped with car navigation or GPS (*1) have become widespread, positioning information using satellites is imperative to our lives,” noted JAXA. “However, in some urban or mountainous areas, positioning signals from a satellite are often hampered by skyscrapers or mountains, or significant errors are caused by reflection waves, thus we sometimes lose our way.
“The first Quasi-Zenith Satellite “MICHIBIKI” will contribute to solving such problems.”
The 4,000kg satellite is made up of a box shape with wing-type solar array paddles and is 2.9m in depth x 3.1m in width x 6.2m in height – with the length between the tips of the paddles coming in at 25.3 m).
The satellite is made up of a Solar Array Paddle – to transform sunlight to electric power to provide energy necessary for the satellite. TTS Antenna – a transmission/receiving antenna for calibration tests on the onboard clock to conduct bidirectional time comparison with the ground. Laser Reflector – to carry out laser ranging for verifying orbit and clock estimations and model improvements using L-band ranging signals.
It also sports an L-band Antenna (Helical Array Antenna) – transmitting five positioning signals including satellite position and time on four frequency bandwidths. L1-SAIF Antenna – an antenna for reinforcing positioning signals to realize positioning accuracy of one meter. C-band TT&C Antenna – receiving correction data from the Okinawa tracking and communication station. It will also be used for transmitting and receiving signals for controlling the satellite.