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General News Japan to launch 3rd satellite in August to enhance GPS
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Japan is set to launch the third of its four global positioning system (GPS) satellites in August aimed at establishing an efficient communication system in the event of natural disasters. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the launch will take place from the Tanegashima Island space centre in Kagoshima Prefecture on August 11, reports Efe news.

This will be Japan’s third Quasi-Zenith Satellite, a device designed to improve global navigation and augment signals emitted by the US-owned GPS, which has a 10-metre margin of error. The first of these satellites, named “Michibiki”, was launched in September 2010 and the second on June 1. The agency plans to launch the fourth before March 2018.

Once the system installation is completed, smartphone users and automotive navigation systems will receive more accurate map information. Meanwhile, Japanese authorities are also expected to increase the total number of such satellites in orbit by 2023 to seven in order to set up a system which ensures communication even when traditional networks stop working due to natural disasters.

The objective is to avoid a situation similar to what occurred after the earthquake on March 2011 which left some 29,000 mobile phones and over 1.9 million landline phones disconnected, hindering search and rescue operations.

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