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Japanese satellites launched on Soviet-era missile

06 November 2014

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A decommissioned Soviet-era ballistic missile - adapted for space launches instead of nuclear war - rocketed out of an underground silo and sent five Japanese Earth observing satellites into orbit Thursday.

The 111-foot-tall Dnepr rocket fired out of a missile silo at the Dombarovsky military base in southern Russia at 0735 GMT (2:35 a.m. EST; 10:35 a.m. Moscow time) and deployed its passenger spacecraft in orbit nearly 14 minutes later, according to Kosmotras, a Moscow-based company with joint Russian-Ukrainian ownership that oversees the commercial exploitation of the launcher.

"All spacecraft have been inserted into their target orbits," Kosmotras said.

The mission's primary payload was a half-ton Earth observation satellite from Japan. Named ASNARO 1 - short for Advanced Satellite with New System Architecture for Observation - the spacecraft carries an optical camera that can resolve objects as small as a half-metre (20 inches) across. The satellite is designed to send back high-resolution imagery through an advanced X-band radio system.

Source: Spaceflight Now

Image credit: Japan Space Systems / METI - Artist's depiction of ASNARO

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