Japanese weather satellite Himawari-9 was launched today at 07:21 GMT from Tanegashima Space Center. It is second start of launch vehicle from Tanegashima in 2016 – it was preceded by launch of Astro-H (Hitomi) on February and it will be followed by mission of the HTV cargo vehicle, which will be launched with supplies for International Space Station on 9th December.

JAXA has launched today their new weather satellite for Japanese Ministry of Transport, Civil Aviation Bureau and Meteorological Agency.  Himawari-9 mission was preceded by mission of Himawari-8, which started on October 7, 2014. Both satellites were ordered by Japanese government at Mitsubishi Electric. Mitsubishi, which is also manufacturer of H-II launch vehicle, decided to choose Boing as subcontractor for developing payload for Himawari satellites.

Launch of the H-IIA (202) F31 was planned for 15:20 JST (06:20 GMT). Since early morning hours weather at Tanegashima Island was favorable; engineers finished uploading wind data for H-IIA onboard computers around 06:00 GMT; rocket was standing at Launch Pad 1 at Yoshinobu Space Complex since yesterday, when it was rolled out from assembling facility. Now, twenty minutes before T=0, rocket was almost ready for starting automated countdown procedure planned to begin at T-4’30. Payload was reported as ready for the mission at 06:15 GMT and one minute later, rocket was already using own power system an fuel tanks started to be pressurized. One minute before planned T=0 (06:19 GMT) special water curtain system was turned on to prevent extended noise generated by rocket. At 06:20 GMT rocket ignited first stage and two boosters and started to rise over Launch Pad 1. At T+1′ rocket reached speed of 1 Ma and started phase of flight when aerodynamic pressure is reaching maximal value. At T+2’50” both SRB-A boosters were separated 55 km over Pacific Ocean. Rocket already was on correct course towards East. At T+4’11” payload fairing was jettisoned and Himawari-9 satellite was exposed on altitude of 148 km. Main stage cut off and starting propulsion of the second stage started at T+6’50”. At T+12’50” second stage propulsion was cut off and first burn was finished. For the second time engine started at T+23’44” for four minutes. It was cut off at T+27′; exactly 43 seconds later Himawari-9 was deployed on altitude of 263.9 km during flight with speed of 35063 km/h.

Himawari-9 satellite was delivered to GTO orbit on atop of H-IIA rocket manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. It was used in 202 configuration; rocket in this version weighs 285 t with total length of 53 m and diameter at 4 m. During start it is supported with two SRB-A solid fueled rocket boosters.  Each SRB booster, fueled with HTPB, is generating thrust at 4520 kN.  Rocket is capable to deliver 4100 kg to Geostationary Transfer Orbit. First stage is powered with LE-7A engine fueled with LOX/LH2 and generating thrust at 1098 kN. Second stage is equipped with LE-5B engine, which is also fueled with LOX/LH2 and is generating thrust at 137 kN.

Two Himawari satellites delivered by Melco are replacements for Himawari-6 and Himawari-7 satellites, which finished their service life planned for 15 years. Designed with utilization of DS-2000 bus, Himawari-8 and Himawari-9 are also designed to serve without minor problems 15 years on GEO orbit. Himawari-9 launched today will stay at GEO 140° East orbital slot. It will reach GEO starting its travel from GTO orbit of 250 km x 35976 km (with inclination of 22.4°). Himawari-9 weighs 3500 kg (1300 kg dry mass) and is powered by single gallium-arsenide solar array providing 2.6 kW for onboard systems and scientific instruments and for charging onboard battery.  It will use its 16 channel multispectral imager over Asian-Pacific and provide detailed images (with resolution of 0.5 km – 2 km) in visible light and infrared. Along with this imaging device called AHI (Advanced Himawari Imager), Himawari-9 is also equipped with SEDA (Space Environment Data Acquisition Monitor) device serving for measuring radiation on GEO orbit and DCS (Data Collection Subsystem) data relay transponder operating on Ka band.