Search  
Big Brothers Big Sisters    
Good Morning America World News Tonight 20/20 Primetime Nightline WNN This Week
March 27, 2003
 
HOMEPAGE
NEWS SUMMARY
US
INTERNATIONAL
MONEYScope
WEATHER
LOCAL NEWS
ENTERTAINMENT
ESPN SPORTS
SCI / TECH
POLITICS
HEALTH
TRAVEL
FEATURED SERVICES
RELATIONSHIPS
SHOPPING
DOWNLOADS
WIRELESS
INTERACT
VIDEO & AUDIO
BOARDS
CHAT
NEWS ALERTS
CONTACT ABC


(Reuters Photo)
Japan Launches Spy Satellites Amid N.Korea Fears

Reuters


Print This Page
Email This Page
See Most Sent
Ambushed U.S. Soldiers' Tale of Survival
Desert Hospital Treats Wounded In the Field
Anti-Tank Missile May Give Iraq Extra Punch
March 27

By Kimimasa Mayama

TANEGASHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - A rocket carrying Japan's first two spy satellites blasted off on Friday in an intelligence-gathering effort that some fear may spur its heavily armed neighbor, North Korea, to test-fire a ballistic missile.

The satellites, one optical and one radar-equipped, separated from the rocket and went into orbit as planned but will not be fully operational for several months.

"We have received word that the launch was successful," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a meeting of the Upper House budgetary committee, attended by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The news was greeted with applause.

The Japanese-made H-2A launch rocket had been seen trailing a white plume through a cloudless sky above the launch site on the tiny island of Tanegashima, 620 miles southwest of Tokyo.

The satellite deployment, which will give Japan its first independent chance to scrutinize North Korea from space, was planned after Pyongyang's 1998 firing of a Taepodong ballistic missile, which passed over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

Tokyo plans to launch another two similar satellites later in the year in a $2.08 billion project.

The region has been jittery since Washington said in October that North Korea had admitted to a secret nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang has since taken a number of provocative steps including firing two short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan.

Some analysts have expressed concern that North Korea, which has criticized the satellite launch as a "hostile act," could seize the opportunity to fire a Rodong ballistic missile capable of reaching Japan to grab international attention back from Iraq.

The smooth launch will be a boost for Japan's rocket launch program, which is due to be privatized in two years' time. Confidence in the program was severely damaged by two successive failures in 1998 and 1999.


photo credit and caption:
An H-2A rocket carrying Japan's first spy satellites rises into the air after blasting off from Tanegashima Space Center on the Japanese southwestern island, south west of Tokyo, March 28, 2003. Japan blasted its first spy satellites into orbit, giving Tokyo its first independent peek into heavily armed North Korea but at the risk of provoking its communist neighbor into a missile launch. Photo by Kimimasa Mayama/Reuters

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
  RELATED STORIES
International Index
More Raw News
 
 INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES
Major Battles Expected Outside Baghdad
Ambushed U.S. Troops' Tale of Survival
Why Iraq War Looks Different Worldwide
Adviser Perle Leaves Defense Panel Chair
Have the Rules of War Been Violated?

 


Copyright 2003 ABCNEWS Internet Ventures.
Click here for:  HELP   ADVERTISER INFO   CONTACT ABC   TOOLS   PR   TERMS OF USE   PRIVACY POLICY

Family of sites:      ABC.com        ABC Family        ESPN.com        Disney.com        FamilyFun.com        GO Mail        Movies.com