Earth Observation Mission News
H-2A rocket boosts Japanese weather satellite into orbit
07 October 2014
Japan launched a next-generation geostationary weather satellite Tuesday on the 25th flight of the country's H-2A rocket, deploying an upgraded meteorological observatory critical to the minute-by-minute tracking of tropical cyclones and other storm systems across the Asia-Pacific.
With its twin solid rocket boosters and hydrogen-burning main engine firing, the 315-ton H-2A launcher blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan at 0516 GMT (1:16 a.m. EDT; 2:16 p.m. JST).
The 174-foot-tall rocket, covered in orange insulating foam, pitched east from the picturesque island space base, passed the speed of sound in less than a minute, and accelerated into the upper atmosphere before releasing two empty 49-foot-long strap-on solid rocket motor casings to fall into the Pacific Ocean 28 miles below.
The H-2A rocket's LE-7A main engine fired for more than six-and-a-half minutes, switching off at a velocity of nearly 12,000 mph to make way for the launcher's second stage LE-5B engine to guide the mission's satellite passenger -- the Himawari 8 weather observatory -- into orbit.
Source: Spaceflight Now
Image credit: MHI - H-2A rocket launch, carrying Himawari-8