Japan Launches UAE's KhalifaSat and Climate-Monitoring Satellite Into Orbit

Japan successfully deployed a pair of brand-new satellites, including the first one built by the United Arab Emirates, during a launch held earlier today (Oct. 29), which was formally scheduled just two days in advance.

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.

Engineers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency prepare the climate-monitoring spacecraft GOSAT-2 for launch. (Image credit: JAXA)

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.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at Space.com and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.