IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


13th January, 2024 Security

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Japan successfully launched a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H2A rocket carrying IGS-Optical 8 (Information Gathering Satellite), a government intelligence-gathering satellite, on a mission to watch movements at military sites in North Korea and to improve responses to natural disasters.


  • Orbit: Expected to enter a circular orbit with an altitude of approximately 500 kilometers in a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). 

Purpose of IGS-Optical 8

  • The satellite serves both military and civilian purposes.
  • Designed for tracking North Korean military activities.
  • Civilian applications include monitoring natural disasters.


  • Origins: Japan initiated its satellite program after a North Korean missile overflew Japan in 1998.
  • Network Expansion: Japan aims to establish a network of 10 satellites, including radar-equipped ones for night and all-weather operations.
  • Early Warning System: The satellite network serves to provide early warnings for potential missile launches.

Launch Statistics

  • Japan's first launch of 2024.
  • 48th overall launch of the H-2A rocket.
  • Only two more launches of the H-2A are planned before its retirement.
  • Next H-2A launch (H3 flight 2) scheduled for January 14, carrying a dummy payload.
  • Final launches of IGS-Radar 8 and Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite-2 (GOSAT-2) planned later in the year.

Impact on Martian Moons eXploration Mission (MMX):

  • Failure of the first H3 launch led to a delay in the MMX mission.
  • MMX, aiming to collect samples from the Martian moon Phobos, rescheduled for a 2026 launch window, contingent on H3's successful performance.

Future Space Transportation Plans

  • JAXA working on plans for a new, large, and reusable launch vehicle.
  • Considering liquid methane as the fuel for the rocket.


This successful satellite launch highlights Japan's commitment to advancing its space capabilities for defense and civilian applications, overcoming challenges faced in developing new launch vehicles.


Q. What is the primary objective of the Optical-8 satellite launched by Japan's H2A rocket?

A. Enhancing global internet connectivity

B. Studying exoplanets and celestial bodies

C. Government intelligence-gathering with a focus on North Korea

D. Monitoring climate change and environmental factors

Answer: C.