By fiscal 2023, the Japanese government plans to have launched seven satellites into orbit. Source: Shutterstock

Japan launches own version of GPS satellite to improve location positioning

JAPAN launched a rocket carrying a satellite with a local version of the United States global positioning system (GPS) on Thursday, which is expected to increase the precision of location information used in smartphones and car navigation system.

Japan launched an H-2A rocket which carries the satellite called “Michibiki No.2” from a space centre in Tanegashima, southern Japan.

The nation launched the first Michibiki satellite into space in 2010 on a trial basis and it plans to send two more satellites later this year, according to the Cabinet Office.

Once the four satellites are in orbit, at least one satellite will be flying over Japan for eight hours per day.

The combination of the US and Japanese GPS system will enhance the stability of receiving radio waves and increase the precision of position information.

The US GPS has a margin of error of about 10m (about 33 feet), but together with the Japanese system, positioning error will be reduced to only several centimetres (a few inches)

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The system is expected to be used for activities such as driverless tractors in farming and to help develop automated construction machines.

By fiscal 2023, the government plans to have launched seven satellites into orbit and secure Japan’s own GPS system without depending on the US system.