Space: October 20, 1999

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Japanese Spy Satellites The US and Japan have reached an agreement on the use of US built components in the Japanese satellite program. The $1.3-1.7B Japanese program is designed to have systems on orbit by 2002. Mitsubishi Electric has been chosen as lead contractor for the program. Their proposal is for two 850kg optical payload vehicles with resolution of 1m and 2 1,200kg vehicles carrying synthetic aperture radars with a resolution of 1-3m. The Japanese decided to deploy this system as a result of the North Korean ballistic missile tests. Japan faces two key nuclear threats, China and North Korea. While the official reason for the satellites is Japans concern for the future actions of the less than completely stable/rational North Korean government it's hard to believe that the increasing militarization of China, and its more expansionist foreign policy, didn't have some role in the decision. While an invasion of Japan is very unlikely the use of missiles or other long range weapons, either for intimidation or for actual attacks is higher. --Tom Trinko

 


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