Japanese spy satellite breaks down

According to the Global Times:

One of Japan’s four spy satellites orbiting Earth, in part to monitor activities in North Korea, has broken down, Japanese media quoted government sources as saying Saturday.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, Japan’s Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center said it detected a glitch in the satellite’s radar system Monday and began remote operations to restart the system.

However, an official of the center said the outlook for recovery was “extremely grim,” the newspaper said.

The No. 2 radar satellite, which was put into orbit in February 2007, appeared to have run into trouble related to its electrical power supply, the center said. The satellite was designed to work in space for five years and should have completed its mission in 2012.

The remaining three satellites, all optical ones, are working to minimize the effect of the radar satellite’s malfunction, the Kyodo News Agency quoted a defense ministry source as saying.

Japan decided to deploy spy satellites to keep an eye on developments in North Korea after Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile in 1998, part of which flew over the Japanese archipelago and fell into the Pacific Ocean.

A set of four satellites – two radar orbiters and two optical orbiters – can gather imagery of any place in the world within a 24-hour period while in their polar orbit at an altitude of 400- 600 kilometers, the paper said.

Intelligence-gathering satellites are a precious source of information for Japan and “serve as a deterrent by monitoring any kind of activity,” one high-ranking defense official told the paper.

The paper also noted that the breakdown has occurred at the most inopportune time, as North Korea continues to develop missile and nuclear programs and as China expands its military capabilities.

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Japanese spy satellite over North Korea breaks down
Global Times


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