Tanegashima: UAE's passage to progress

The Tanegashima Space Center is located in the southeastern corner of Tanegashima, an island about 40km south of Kyushu.
The Tanegashima Space Center is located in the southeastern corner of Tanegashima, an island about 40km south of Kyushu.

The site is ideal for launch because its latitude of 310 makes it close to the equator, which makes it easier to launch missions because of the Earth's rotation

The Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC), is the largest rocket-launch complex in Japan with a total area of about 9.7 million square metres. Located in the south of Kagoshima Prefecture, along the southeast coast of Tanegashima, it is known as the most beautiful rocket-launch complex in the world.

On-site facilities include the Yoshinobu Launch Complex, a launch site for large-size rockets, Spacecraft Test and Assembly Buildings, and the Spacecraft and Fairing Assembly Building. Using those facilities, a series of operations are performed from assembling launch vehicles, maintenance, inspections, final checks of satellites, loading satellites onto launch vehicles, launches, and tracking launch vehicles after liftoff. The TNSC plays a pivotal role for satellite launches among Japan's space development activities.

The Tanegashima Space Center is located in the southeastern corner of Tanegashima, an island about 40km south of Kyushu. The space centre was established in 1969 to complement the formation of the National Space Development Agency of Japan. The centre is now run by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Visitors to Tanegashima can watch rocket launches from observation points around the island or visit the center's Space Museum between launches.

Located in the far southeast of Tanegashima, the space center is a two-hour bus ride from Tanegashima's Nishino Omote Port. It is best accessed by car.

The Tanegashima Space Center is a fully functional launch, research, development, and assembly centre for Japan's space programme. It is the largest rocket-launch complex in Japan.

There are several space-related facilities here. Orbital launches of rockets take place from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex, which has two launch pads. There are buildings for spacecraft assembly and radar and optical tracking of launched vehicles onsite.

You can visit the museum here for free. With full-scale models and games, the exhibits cover various aspects of space development, such as rocket science, satellite use, the International Space Station, terrestrial observation, and astronomy.

You can see launches from numerous sites around Tanegashima. The Rocket Hill Observatory provides a good view of the Yoshinobu Launch Complex, but it is closed to the public during rocket launches. Public viewing points for rocket launches include Uchugaoka Park and Hase Park.

Advanced booking is required for a guided facility tour. The facility may be temporarily closed when a rocket launch is scheduled. During launch windows, a three-kilometer cordon is set up around the launch site, and visitors should not attempt to cross this.

Notable missions

Other notable recent missions launched from Tanegashima include:

Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS, also known as Daichi): This launched in 2006 and operated for five years. Its notable contributions include observations after the 2011 tsunami hit Japan.

SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer), also known as Kaguya: This was a lunar mission that ran between 2007 and 2009. Among its achievements include a detailed gravity map of the moon's far side, and better lunar global topography maps.

Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT, also known as Ibuki): This was launched in January 2009 to measure greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide and methane.

The Venus Climate Orbiter (also known as Akatsuki and Planet-C): It was launched in May 2010 but failed to reach orbit at Venus as planned, in December 2010. The spacecraft continued to orbit the sun for five years until it was put into an alternative orbit in December 2015. It is examining items such as Venus' atmosphere and clouds.

IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun): An experimental solar-sail spacecraft launched along with the Akatsuki mission. It was the first to test out solar sails in interplanetary space, which included passing by Venus in December 2010.

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM): A joint mission between JAXA and NASA to look at the Earth's precipitation with an eye to better forecasting hurricanes and other extreme events. It launched in 2014 and is still operational.

Hayabusa 2: This asteroid sample spacecraft launched in December 2014 en route to 162173 Ryugu. It is expected to stay at the asteroid for a year and a half after arriving in July 2018, including deploying a few spacecraft on the surface. It will leave in December 2019 and return to Earth in December 2020.

ASTRO-H (also known as Hitomi and New X-ray Telescope, or NeXT): This mission was supposed to be an X-ray satellite to look at items such as dark matter, galaxy clusters and cosmic rays. It launched on February 17, 2016, but experienced several problems with its attitude control system, leading to a loss of contact on March 26.

Seiji Izumisawa, Member of the Board, President and CEO
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)

On behalf of MHI, I would like to offer our sincere congratulations to the UAE on the successful delivery of the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre's (MBRSC) Hope Probe into orbit via the H-IIA launch vehicle F42.

We are honoured to be a part of this historic national project. We hope for the continued success of the probe's journey to Mars and its pioneering work on the surface.
We believe that this mission marks a giant step not only for UAE, but also for meteorologists and geoscientists all over the world, thanks to the data it will collect about Mars' atmosphere. It will be a catalyst for the UAE's development across sectors, and will enable its scientists and engineers to help tackle climate change.

MHI is proud of its long-relationship with the UAE in many areas, including energy, environment and transportation. MHI also successfully launched UAE's first home-grown satellite, KhalifaSat, into orbit in 2018. We hope to continue supporting UAE's further economic growth and development of its knowledge based economy.

Finally, I would like to express my thanks to all involved in the launch for their devoted support and cooperation - in particular, to those at UAE Space Agency and MBRSC.

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