TOKYO – Japan is set to launch the third of its four global positioning system satellites on Aug. 11, in order to improve the accuracy of the current GPS, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said on Thursday.
The launch will take place from the Tanegashima Island space center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, the JAXA statement noted.
This will be Japan’s third Quasi-Zenith Satellite, a device designed to improve global navigation and augment signals emitted by the United States-owned GPS, which has a 10-meter margin of error.
The first of these satellites, named “Michibiki,” was launched in September 2010, and the second on June 1 this year, while 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, aimed at reducing the margin of error to between one meter and six centimeters.
Meanwhile, Japanese authorities are also expected to increase the total number of such satellites in orbit by 2023 to seven, in order to establish of a system that 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 11, 2011, which left some 29,000 mobile phones and over 1.9 million landline phones disconnected, hindering search and rescue operations.