Japan will launch an X-ray astronomy satellite atop an H-2A carrier rocket in February next year, as an effort to elucidate the structure of space and its evolution.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced Friday that they decided to launch the H-2A Launch Vehicle No.30 (H-2A F30) with the X-ray astronomy satellite “ASTRO-H” onboard on Feb.12, 2016 from Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan’s southwestern Kagoshima prefecture.
“Launch time will be set for each launch day if the launch is delayed,” said JAXA in a release. The launch window will be between Feb.13-29, 2016.
“To capitalize on the excess launch capability of the H-2A F30, we will also provide launch and orbit injection opportunities for small secondary payloads (piggyback payloads),” said the Japanese space agency.
The ASTRO-H is an astronomy satellite to elucidate the structure of space and its evolution through studying high-temperature and high-energy celestial bodies, such as black holes, supernova remnants, and galaxy clusters by X-rays and gamma-rays.
X-rays and gamma-rays from space are absorbed in the Earth’s atmosphere, thus they cannot be observed on the Earth. Therefore observation in space is necessary.
The 14-meter-long ASTRO-H is the 6th Japanese-led X-ray observatory, and the successor to the Suzaku satellite which is currently in space.