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Technology

Japan to launch second GPS satellite for improved accuracy

Location data holds promise for self-driving, drone delivery, national security

Japan aims to have seven Michibiki GPS satellites in orbit by fiscal 2023. (Image courtesy of JAXA)

TOKYO -- Japan will launch Thursday its second satellite for a GPS system designed to bring hyper-accurate location data, moving closer to a technology that offers applications in national security, autonomous driving and other services.

The quazi-zenith Michibiki No. 2 satellite, a joint effort of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is scheduled to blast off at 9:17 a.m. local time. Launchpad preparations for the Michibiki's launch vehicle, the H-IIA, were underway Tuesday at JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. A further two Michibiki satellites are planned for launch this fiscal year, and one is already in orbit.

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