Japan will start research in fiscal 2005 on scaling down the size of its spy satellites to enhance their maneuverability, aiming to launch a small fourth-generation satellite by around fiscal 2010.
According to Kyodo News, the move shows that Japan wants to improve the capabilities of its satellites in taking photos of the nuclear facilities in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The current spy satellites, launched in fiscal 2002, weigh about two tons, and their weight makes it difficult for them to turn quickly enough to take photos in a short period of time, but the smaller satellite, expected to be around 1.2 tons through use of weight-saving materials, would be able to shoot faster.
The current satellites orbit Earth at a speed of 29,000 kilometers per hour along a north-south direction and can take photos of the DPRK once every two days for only several minutes, Kyodo said.
The Japanese government plans to launch second-generation spy satellites in fiscal 2005 and 2006 whose intelligence-gathering capabilities are almost identical to those of the existing pair ofsatellites.
In fiscal 2009, a third-generation satellite whose intelligence-gathering capability is much stronger than the current pair will be sent into space.
The slimmed-down fourth-generation version would be launched infiscal 2010 to 2011 and be able to check whether a parked aircrafthas missiles mounted and what kinds of vehicles are entering and leaving military bases.
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Walker's World: Spy Satellites And Power
Paris (UPI) Dec 22, 2004
The new twinkling star in the Christmas sky speaks French, and sometimes German and Italian and Spanish, and goes by the name of Helios 2A. France's new spy satellite, Helios 2A was launched aboard a French Ariane rocket on Saturday, orbits the earth at a height of 400 miles and cost nearly $3 billion.
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