Michibiki Navigation satellite reaches position above Japan

Japan’s first navigation satellite has arrived on station more than 20,000 miles over Asia to improve positioning coverage in mountainous terrain and urban centers.

The Michibiki satellite entered its quasi-zenith orbit early Monday, Japanese time, the country’s space agency announced. The orbit stretches from a low point of 20,268 miles to a high point of 24,202 miles.

The quasi-zenith orbit, designed to maximize Michibiki’s coverage of Japan, has an average altitude equal to the distance of geosynchronous satellites from Earth. Its longitude is locked in at 135 degrees east longitude.

Michibiki means "guiding" or "showing the way"e;

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Japan successfully launches satellite to improve GPS

Japan successfully launched a satellite Saturday to improve car navigation and other services using the global positioning system.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the quasi-zenith satellite Michibiki at 8:17 p.m. from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, using an H2A rocket. The 4-ton Michibiki — 3 meters long, 3 meters wide and 6 meters high — was separated from the rocket 28 minutes after the launch.

The launch of the satellite is intended to boost the accuracy and coverage of GPS services in Japan by complementing a U.S. satellite network.

Japan’s GPS services currently depend on U.S. satellites. But their orbits are not just above Japan and radio waves from those satellites can be hampered by skyscrapers or mountains.

The agency aims to eliminate such blind spots and reduce the margin of error to within 1 meter by putting the Michibiki on an orbit almost just above Japan.

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