Launch 2020: A Year of Transition for Japan

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe took off at 2:58 p.m. PDT on July 19 from a launch site in Japan, headed for Mars to study its atmosphere. (Credit: MHI Launch Services via YouTube)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a typical year for Japan with four successful launches and no failures. Japan has averaged 3.8 launches annually over the past decade. Last year also saw a Japanese astronaut become the first foreigner to fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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Japan Launches Reconnaissance Satellite

A H-2A rocket launched $272 million reconnaissance satellite for the Japanese government on Sunday.

The booster lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan carrying the Information Gathering Satellite Optical 7 (IGS-Optical 7) spacecraft.

The satellite will replace IGS-Optical 5, whose five-year on-orbit lifetime is expiring this year. The spacecraft was launched in 2015.

It was Japan’s first launch of 2020 and the 35th success in a row for the H-2A booster.