Michibiki Navigation System of Japan

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The Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) is a proposed three-satellite regional time transfer system and the satellite-based augmentation system for the Global Positioning System that would be receivable within Japan.

The first satellite “Michibiki” was launched on 11 September 2010.

The $526 million contract with Mitsubishi Electric for the construction of three satellites is slated for launch before the end of 2017. The basic four-satellite system is planned to be operational in 2018.

Authorized by the Japanese government in 2002, work on a concept for a Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), or Juntencho in Japanese, began development by the Advanced Space Business Corporation (ASBC) team, including Mitsubishi Electric, Hitachi, and GNSS Technologies Inc.

However, ASBC collapsed in 2007. The work was taken over by the Satellite Positioning Research and Application Center.

SPAC is owned by four departments of the Japanese government: the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.

QZSS is targeted at mobile applications, to provide communications-based services (video, audio, and data) and positioning information.

With regards to its positioning service, QZSS can only provide limited accuracy on its own and is not currently required in its specifications to work in a stand-alone mode. As such, it is viewed as a GNSS Augmentation service.

Its positioning service could also collaborate with the geostationary satellites in Japan’s Multi-Functional Transport Satellite (MTSAT), currently under development, which itself is a Satellite Based Augmentation System similar to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS).

Japan launched a satellite to help build a high-precision geolocation system that will complement the US-operated GPS. A H-IIA rocket blasted off from the Tanegashima space centre in southern Japan carrying the “Michibiki” No.2 satellite.

The Michibiki system can cover the Asia-Oceania region and works with the US-operated Global Positioning System (GPS). Japan aims to establish a constellation of seven satellites by around 2023.

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