Japan launches space operations unit
NHK -- May 19
Japan's Defense Ministry has launched its first space operations unit to protect Japanese satellites in outer space.

A ceremony to mark the inauguration of the Space Operations Squadron was held at the ministry in central Tokyo on Monday.

Defense Minister Kono Taro handed the squadron's flag to Ajiki Toshihide, who heads the roughly 20-member team.

The new space unit, set up at an Air Self-Defense Force base in Tokyo's Fuchu City, will monitor movements of suspicious satellites and space debris to protect Japan's satellites.

To help support the unit's activities, a radar to monitor outer space will be built in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan.

The team will also work with Japan's space agency JAXA and the US military to establish a space surveillance system which is expected to become fully operational in three years.

Ministry officials say that satellites are indispensable for gathering intelligence, communication, and grasping accurate positional information.

Squadron chief Ajiki said he plans to initially train the members with simulators and other equipment. He also said he hopes to discuss how to share information with counterparts in the United States as the US operates a global space-surveillance network.

News source: NHK
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