Tokyo, February 17, AZERTAC
Japan will launch the ASTRO-H x-ray astronomy satellite via its H-IIA rocket Wednesday, with a launch from the country’s Tanegashima launch site scheduled for 17:45 local time (08:45 UTC). ASTRO-H, which is was previously known as the New X-ray Telescope (NeXT), is a high-energy astronomy mission led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The H-IIA and H-IIB share a vertical assembly building half a kilometre to the north-west of the pads. Ahead of Wednesday’s launch the rocket – H-IIA F-30 – departed the assembly building atop a mobile launch platform at around 05:10 local time (20:10 UTC) and arrived at the pad about 25 minutes later.
Wednesday’s launch is the twelfth of 2016 worldwide, and the first of the year for Japan. It is the first of three H-IIA missions expected this year, however no launch dates have been announced for the other missions, which will carry the Himawari-9 weather satellite and the IGS Radar 5 reconnaissance spacecraft.
The larger H-IIB is scheduled to make a launch in early November, which will carry the sixth Kounotori resupply mission to the International Space Station. The year may also see the second flight of Japan’s smaller Epsilon rocket.