The rocket, an H-IIA launch vehicle, blasted off at 1:08 p.m. local time (2:08 a.m. EDT, 0608 GMT) from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) . Both satellites on board, which are designed to study Earth, separated successfully, with the first leaving about 16 minutes into flight and the second about 24 minutes in.
One is a JAXA spacecraft designed to monitor greenhouse gases, called the Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite-2, or GOSAT-2. Also known as IBUKI-2, that satellite replaces a predecessor that launched in 2009.
Like the original satellite, the new spacecraft will measure concentrations of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. Specifically, GOSAT-2 will be able to measure carbon dioxide, methane and, in an upgrade over its predecessor, carbon monoxide. The satellite is designed to last for five years.
The other spacecraft on board today's rocket is KhalifaSat, a United Arab Emirates-built imaging satellite designed to assist with everything from monitoring the environment and land use in cities to ship tracking and disaster relief. It's the first satellite to be built in the UAE and only the third spacecraft to be managed by the country's space agency.