Japan launches reconnaissance satellite

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Japan has successfully orbited two satellites during a 27 January launch at Tanegashima, Japan, in the nation's first launch of 2013.

The larger satellite, a radar satellite called Information Gathering Satellite (IGS-4D), completes Japan's latest constellation of similar spy satellites. IGS-4D is meant to replace a similar satellite, launched in 2003, that lost radar abilities while in orbit.

The second satellite is described as a reconnaissance demonstration payload, though further details have not been released.

Japan's spy satellite programme began in earnest in 1998, when North Korea launched several experimental missiles over northern Japan.

The launch marks the 32nd H-II model launched, and the eighth to launch spy satellites, according to Flightglobal/Ascend's launch database.