Dubai: Japan’s space agency on Monday launched a rocket carrying a satellite that will monitor greenhouse gases, as well as the first satellite built entirely in the United Arab Emirates.
The nation’s H-IIA rocket lifted off Monday afternoon at 1:08 pm (0308 GMT) from the Tanegashima Space Centre, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
About 16 minutes later, it sent a Japanese satellite nicknamed Ibuki-2 into orbit.
The satellite is officially named GOSAT-2, short for “greenhouse gases observing satellite-2”, and is intended to provide data that will help Japan create and publish “emission inventories” of the CO2 output of various countries, as outlined in the Paris climate accord.
The satellite will also make precision observations of methane and other gases.
The Japanese rocket also released “KhalifaSat”, the first satellite built entirely in the UAE by local engineers.
“The launch of KhalifaSat is an unprecedented Emirati achievement,” Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed said in a tweet.
“Our dreams to embrace space have become a reality.”
Five other smaller satellites are scheduled to be released from the Japanese rocket.
Japan’s space agency and its private partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries see the international satellite launch market as a possible revenue stream.
10 Facts about KhalifaSat:
1) What is KhalifaSat?
The KhalifaSat is the first 100 per cent Emirati-made satellite. It is an Earth Observation satellite that will orbit the Earth from pole to pole at a distance of 613km. It weighs roughly 330kg and measures 2 metres by 1.5 metres. It has a lifespan of five years.
2) How does the KhalifaSat work?
It is essentially a specialised camera in space powered by the sun. It’s like the Earth is taking high-resolution selfies continuously and the images are beamed back directly to the earth.
3) When will it be launched?
It will be launched on October 29 at 8.08am (UAE time) from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the JAXA Tanegashima Space Centre, an island to the south of Japan.
The launch vehicle is an H-IIA. During the launch, the H-IIA will carry two payloads: the KhalifaSat and JAXA’s Second Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite “IBUKI-2” (GOSAT-2)
4) Can you watch the launch?
The launch will be live-streamed on MBRSC’s YouTube channel. There will also be social media live coverage and live broadcast on TV channels.
5) What will happen during the launch?
The actual launch where the rocket leaves Earth and reaches space will take roughly 20 minutes. It will take approximately two hours to confirm successful separation and operation of the satellite from the launcher.
6) Where is the satellite placed inside the launch vehicle?
The satellite is secured inside the fairing, which is the top most part of the launcher. The fairing is a cover to protect payloads such as satellites inside from the external load, heat and extreme environment at lift-off and during flight.
7) What’s the first image that will be taken by KhalifaSat?
Amer Al Sayegh said the KhalifaSat will first be calibrated once in space and will take photos of designated calibration sites. The first official photo after the calibration, however, will be a surprise for everyone. He said it is a “unique place”.
8) Who manufactured KhalifaSat?
70 Emirati engineers, including fresh graduates, worked on the satellite at MBRSC.
9) What are the uses of KhalifaSat’s images?
Satellite imagery captured with a resolution of 70cm to all UAE Government entities and universities. Commercial use may be determined later as per the centre’s policy.
It can be used for urban planning, environmental studies, including detecting oil spills on land, monitoring land contamination, and provide support in disaster management.
10) If the launch fails, what will happen?
This is highly unlikely as the H-IIA launcher boasts of a high reliability of 97 per cent launch success rate. Officials said the KhalifaSat is fully insured and the space centre is capable of building another one should there be a problem.