Japan to launch H2A rocket carrying intelligence-gathering satellite in Jan.

NHK has learned that Japan plans to launch an H2A rocket in January carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite.

Sources say the launch is scheduled for January 11 from Tanegashima Space Center in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima.

The rocket will carry an optical satellite that can capture images of various locations across the globe from hundreds of kilometers above Earth.

The satellite will be used for such purposes as monitoring missile launch sites in North Korea and assessing damage in the aftermath of natural disasters.

There were concerns that the failed launch of Japan's new H3 rocket in March could impact H2A launches. But the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, strengthened measures, including inspections of rocket parts used by both models. An H2A rocket carrying a lunar probe was successfully launched in September.

The H2A faces problems such as high launch costs and aging facilities. It is slated to be replaced by its successor H3 rockets in fiscal 2025 or later after a final launch planned during the next fiscal year.