Wanna see a missile silo launch — for peace?

ICBMs have been recycled for peaceful purposes before, but only the Russians still fly them out of silos when they’re launching satellites.  Yesterday, a Dnepr rocket lifted five Japanese Earth-oberving satellites into orbit.  And happily, they’ve posted the video to YouTube!  So check this out: you don’t see many launches like this.  (Which is probably a good thing, on balance.)

The rocket launched from Dombarovsky military base under the auspices of Kosmotras, a joint Russian-Ukrainian company that operates the Cold War surplus rockets commercially.

The primary payload is ASNARO-1, an optical observation satellite built by NEC with 20-cm resolution under ideal conditions.  It’s intended to compete with commercial imagery providers such as DigitalGlobe, and is expected to be merely the first in a series.  Secondary payloads include:

  • Hodoyoshi 1, a smaller imaging satellite from the University of Tokyo
  • ChubuSat 1, from Nagoya University, a space debris tracking experiment
  • Tsubame, a technology demonstrator from Tokyo Institute of Technology, carrying an advanced gyroscope and a new imaging system
  • QSAT-EOS, from Kyushu University, is intended to track disasters and also vegetation
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