Japan launches fourth satellite for GPS that could help spur economic growth

The fourth Michibiki satellite takes just over 28 minutes to reach orbit.
The fourth Michibiki satellite takes just over 28 minutes to reach orbit.PHOTO: REUTERS/KYODO

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan on Tuesday (Oct 10) launched a fourth satellite for a new high-precision global positioning system (GPS) it hopes will encourage new businesses and help spur economic growth.

The fourth Michibiki satellite lifted off from Japan's southern Tanegashima space port aboard an H-2A rocket, taking just over 28 minutes to reach orbit, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.

Having four satellites that loop over Japan and Australia in a figure of eight orbit will allow for uninterrupted coverage and puts engineers on course to switch the system on in April.

Japanese GPS can locate devices to within several centimetres compared with the commonly-used US system, which has an accuracy of about 10m.

Japan plans to have seven of the geo-positioning satellites in orbit by 2023.