Astro-H successfully launched !

Jaxa confirmed that yesterday successfully launched their X-ray space observation satellite from Tanegashima Space Center.

Mission of Japanese X-ray observation satellite for astronomical purposes started yesterday at 09:45 GMT. This time weather was perfect, and in morning sun H-IIA rocket, supported by four solid fueled boosters, lifted off from Tanegashima Space Center. After only one minute, weighting around 300 tons rocket with still working boosters, was reaching speed of sound. After reaching altitude of 70 km, just after planned two minutes of booster operating, separation of the boosters was performed correctly and rocket started flight only on main LE-7A (1098 kN of thrust) engine. In T+4'40" payload fairing separated; after next 2'20" first stage engine stopped and separation started. Second stage, powered with LE-5B engine (137 kN of thrust) started operating just on time and H-IIA reached altitude of 340 km with speed of 4370 m/s. At T+13'24" second stage stopped operating and separation was performed correctly - Astro-H reached its orbit with altitude of 565 km. After first check of satellite condition it was named "Hitomi" by Jaxa. Additional information about Astrosat-H mission You can find in this post.

Jaxa utilized possibility of adding additional payload to this mission. Three microsatellites were launched as piggyback payload: Chubusat-2, Chubusat-3 and Horyu-4. Chubusat-2 is small satellite with weight at 50 kg. It was developed in cooperation of students at Nagoya University and Daido University. Its main objective is to measure background radiation that could jam observation performed by Astro-H. Chubusat-3 is imaging satellite (52 kg of weight) equipped with camera for taking pictures of glaciers and shoreline. Taken pictures will help in monitoring of global warming process. Secondary objective is utilizing onboard camera to detection of space debris. Third satellite was Horyu-4, weighting only 10 kg, nanosatellite designed by students at Kyushu Institute of Technology. It will test new high voltage solar arrays and their influence to other onboard systems of satellite.

Today it was announced by Jaxa that parameters of the orbit of Astro-H are slightly different than it was planned. Apogee of the orbit is 576,5 km (planned 575 km), perigee is 5574.4 km (planned 574 km), inclination and period are exactly as they were planned at 31° and 96.2 minutes.