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Japan successfully launches intelligence satellite

TOKYO, Dec 12 (KUNA) -- Japan on Monday successfully launched a new information gathering radar satellite, apparently to spy on North Korea.
A domestically developed H-2A rocket carrying the satellite lifted off at 10:21 a.m. (0121 GMT) from the Tanegashima Space Center, about 1,000 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said. The satellite was separated from the booster rocket and entered into an orbit around the earth, according to the JAXA.
The development cost of the latest satellite was around JPY 39.8 billion (USD 513 million) and its launch expenses were JPY 10.3 billion (USD 133 million), according to the government.
Officials didn't reveal details of the satellite's capabilities, but Kyodo News Agency said the satellite is believed to be able to distinguish objects as small as 1 meter in size on the ground. Japan has introduced four information-gathering optical satellites since North Korea launched a missile in 1998 into the Pacific over Japan. Optical satellites can capture images in daylight and in clear weather. Tokyo plans to launch another radar satellite by March 2013, which can capture images at night and in cloudy weather. (end) mk.rk KUNA 121019 Dec 11NNNN