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Japan Completes Reconnaissance-Satellite Constellation
Japan plans to start replacing its optical-reconnaissance satellites in 2009, after launching the second of its two radar-reconnaissance satellites into a 400-600-km. (249-373-mi.) polar orbit Feb. 24. The Tanegashima Island launch on an H-IIA rocket completes a four-spacecraft reconnaissance system planned eight years ago. An initial pair of satellites, one optical and one with radar, was launched in March 2003, but a similar pair was destroyed later that year when the H-IIA launcher failed.