Japanese rocket Epsilon 5 launches nine small satellites

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SEOUL, South Korea – Japan’s solid-fuel Epsilon 5 rocket successfully put nine small satellites into orbit on November 9, including an orbital debris removal technology demonstrator, as part of a carpool launch that has been postponed twice since early October.

Live images showed the 26-meter rocket taking off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture at 7:55 p.m. Eastern time or 9:55 a.m. local time. It released the nine satellites “one by one as planned” at an altitude of about 600 kilometers, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said. in a report. This mission marks the fifth flight of the Epsilon rocket, which made its maiden flight in September 2013. Epsilon’s previous four launches – which took place in September 2013, December 2016, January 2018, and January 2019 – have all been successful , according to JAXA data.

Epsilon 5 released the main payload, Rapid Innovative Payload Demonstration Satellite No. 2 (RAISE-2), approximately 52 minutes after launch and the remaining eight were released an hour later, according to JAXA. While eight of the nine satellites were manufactured by various Japanese companies and universities, the last one, NanoDragon, was developed by the Vietnam National Space Center.

RAISE-2, built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp., will test six different space technologies, including a small sensor called MARIN designed to measure the position, altitude and speed of orbiting satellites, according to JAXA.

The largest of the tagalongs is the Debris Removal Unprecedented Micro Satellite (DRUMS), a 62-kilogram spacecraft that will test techniques for capturing space debris to remove it from the space environment. DRUMS, built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, will deploy a small target sub-satellite, which it will then move away from before returning to the rendezvous using automated visual navigation systems.

The NanoDragon from Vietnam is a cubeat that weighs 3.8 kilograms. The satellite, developed by the Vietnam National Space Center (VNSC) as part of the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology, is part of VNSC’s “made in Vietnam” small satellite development roadmap.

Meanwhile, the Epsilon 5 launch was originally scheduled for October 1, but it was canceled about a minute before the scheduled take-off time due to a problem detected in the ground radar equipment. The launch was postponed again on October 7 due to inclement weather conditions.

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