Information Gathering Satellite

Information Gathering Satellite (情報収集衛星 Jōhō Shūshū Eisei) is a satellite in a Japanese spy satellite program. It was started as a response to the 1998 North Korean missile test over Japan. The satellite program's main mission is to provide early warning of impending hostile launches in the neighborhood. This program is under direct control of the cabinet. All of the Information Gathering Satellites were launched by an H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center. However, Earth observation is a rather new field for Japan. The first Japanese mission in this field MOS-1 was launched only in 1987.

On 28 March 2003, presumably partly in response to North Korea's launch of a Taepodong-1 rocket over Japan in 1998, and partly to provide a source of satellite images other than through cooperation with the US, where the US charged roughly USD $10,000 for each satellite image, Japan launched a radar and an optical spy satellite, officially known as IGS-1A and IGS-1B.[1][1] These satellites follow one another at 37-minute separation in a 492 km orbit, which passes over Pyongyang at 11:22 each day, according to observations collected on the seesat-L mailing list.

The program suffered a big setback when Japan lost the second pair of satellites because of an H-IIA launch failure on 29 November 2003.[2]

Except the satellite which failed in launching, a second optical surveillance satellite IGS 3A was launched on 11 September 2006.[3]

A third optical satellite IGS 4A and a second radar satellite IGS 4B were launched on 24 February 2007. IGS 4A is a more advanced and experimental optical satellite.[4]

A fourth optical satellite IGS 5A was launched on 28 November 2009. This satellite has the resolution that is higher than previous generation. [5]

Late March 2007, the first SAR satellite in the series, IGS 1B, suffered a critical power failure.[6][7] The satellite has since been observed to steadily come down and was clearly no longer under control.[8] An uncontrolled re-entry of this satellite occurred on July 26, 2012.[9] Since summer 2010, another of the SAR satellites, IGS 4B has also been unable to carry out its monitoring functions.[10]


Launch Date (UTC) NORAD Designation Japanese Government DesignationSensor TypeNORAD IDInternational codeStatusGenerationBelieved ResolutionInitial Orbital ParameterVehicleResult
28 March 2003 IGS 1A IGS-Optical 1 Optical276982003-009ARetired1st generation of opticalPanchromatic sensor:About 1 m (mono)
Multi-spectral sensor:About 5 m (color)
486–491 km, 97.3°, 94.4 minH2A2024Success
IGS 1B IGS-Radar 1 SAR276992003-009BRetired[6]1st generation of SARAbout 1~3 m
29 November 2003 N/A Nameless for launching failureOpticalN/AN/AN/A1st generation of opticalPanchromatic sensor:About 1 m (mono)
Multi-spectral sensor:About 5 m (color)
N/A Nameless for launching failureSARN/AN/AN/A1st generation of SARAbout 1~3m
11 September 2006 IGS 3A IGS-Optical 2 Optical293932006-037ARetired2nd generation of optical
(Improved type)
1 m478–479 km, 97.4°, 94.2 minH2A202Success
24 February 2007 IGS 4A IGS-Optical 3V Optical305862007-005ARetired3rd generation of optical
(Largely improved type)
About 60 cm481–494 km, 97.2°, 94.4 minH2A2024Success
IGS 4B IGS-Radar 2 SAR305872007-005BRetired[10]2nd generation of SAR
(Improved type)
1 m
28 November 2009 IGS 5A IGS-Optical 3 Optical361042009-066AOperational3rd generation of optical
(Largely improved type)
About 60 cmUnknownH2A202Success
22 September 2011 IGS 6A IGS-Optical 4 Optical378132011-050AOperational4th generation of opticalAbout 60 cmUnknownH2A202Success
12 December 2011 IGS 7A IGS-Radar 3 SAR379542011-075AOperational3rd generation of SARAbout 1mUnknownH2A202Success
27 January 2013 ? IGS-Radar 4 SAR 39061 2013-002AOperational3rd generation of SARAbout 1mUnknownH2A202Success
? IGS-Optical 5V Optical 39062 2013-002BOperational5th generation of optical40 cm
1 February 2015 IGS IGS-Radar SpareSAR 40381 2015-004A Operational3rd generation of SARAbout 1mUnknownH2A202Success
26 March 2015 IGS OPTICAL 5 IGS-Optical 5 Optical 40538 2015-015A Operational5th generation of optical30 cm[11] or 40cm[12]UnknownH2A202Success


  1. 1 2 "Analysis: Japan's spy satellites". News article. BBC NEWS. 28 March 2003. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  2. "Japanese launch fails". News article. Spaceflight Now. 29 November 2003. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  3. "Japan launches new spy satellite". News article. BBC NEWS. 11 September 2006. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  4. "Japanese rocket puts spy spacecraft into orbit". News article. Spaceflight Now. 24 February 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  5. "Japan launches spy satellite under veil of secrecy". News article. Spaceflight Now. 28 November 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  6. 1 2 "Japanese Spy Satellite Suffers Critical Power Failure". News article. SPACE WAR. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  7. "Japanese Spy Satellite Suffers Critical Power Failure.". News article. Space War. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  8. "An Update on IGS 1B". SatTrackCam Leiden. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  9. "The re-entry of IGS 1B on 26 July 2012". SatTrackCam Leiden. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  10. 1 2 "Govt to build backup intel satellite". News article. THE DAILY YOMIURI. 10 October 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  11. 「北」監視能力の向上期待 情報収集衛星打ち上げ成功 Sankei March 26 2015
  12. H2Aロケット28号機打ち上げ成功 情報収集衛星搭載 March 26 2015

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