Tanegashima Space Center

The Tanegashima Space Center (種子島宇宙センター Tanegashima Uchū Sentā) (TNSC) is the largest rocket-launch complex in Japan with a total area of about 9.7 square kilometers. It is located on the south east coast of Tanegashima, an island approximately 40 km south of Kyushu. It was established in 1969 when the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) was formed, and is now run by JAXA.

The activities that take place at TNSC include assembly, testing, launching, and tracking satellites, as well as rocket engine firing tests.

Tanegashima Space Center
Osaki Range
Overlooking the Osaki Range and Tanegashima Space Center
LocationMazu, Kukinaga, Minamitane-cho, Kumage-gun, Kagoshima 891-3793, Tanegashima, Japan
Coordinates30°24′00″N 130°58′12″E / 30.40000°N 130.97000°ECoordinates: 30°24′00″N 130°58′12″E / 30.40000°N 130.97000°E
OwnerJAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
Operated byCabinet Office (Japan) / Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications · MEXT Ministry · Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
OpenedOctober 1969
Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) pre-launch
Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite pre-launch, 2014
The launch of H-IIA Flight 11 rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center, 2006.


On-site main facilities include:.[1]

  • Yoshinobu Launch Complex is a launch site for large-size rockets like the H-IIA
  • Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)
  • Second Spacecraft Test and Assembly Building
  • Takesaki Range Control Center

Those facilities are used for performing operations from assembling launch vehicles, maintenance, inspections, final checks of satellites, loading satellites onto launch vehicles, rocket launches, and tracking launch vehicles after liftoff. The TNSC plays a pivotal role for satellite launches among Japan’s space development activities.

Orbital launches of the H-IIA rockets take place from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex, lifting off from one of its two launch pads. The H-IIA first stage engine, the LE-7A, is test-fired at the Yoshinobu Firing Test Stand. Auxiliary buildings are in place for the assembly of new spacecraft and for radar and optical tracking of launched spacecraft.

The older Osaki Launch Complex was retired in 1992. It was used for the launch and development of N-I, N-II, and H-I space rockets.

The Space Science and Technology Museum is near TNSC. It offers an intricate view of rocket history and technology in Japan. Though most of the displays are in Japanese, there are English tour pamphlets available.

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission (12812960063)

Full view of the Yoshinobu Launch Complex during roll out of the H-IIA rocket in February 2014


Space Science and Technology Museum

Tanegashima location

Tanegashima is the easternmost of the Ōsumi Islands, just south of the major island of Kyushu.

In fiction

In Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest, in the Asian Campaign, the Tanegashima Space Center is an important location, pivotal in the story to the United Federation of Asian Republics reaching Mars before the Americans or Europeans. The spaceport was completely destroyed in a nuclear bombing raid by Novaya Russia, but was rebuilt by the UFAR at the request of their ally, Japan.

Episode 2 of the Japanese animated film 5 Centimeters Per Second features a rocket launch from Tanegashima Space Center.

In the Robotics;Notes visual novel, Tanegashima Space Center is one of the major settings found in the game. It is also featured in the anime.

In Captain Earth, Tanegashima Space Center is now controlled by Globe and serves as one of their bases.

In the Japanese animated television series Aldnoah.Zero, Tanegashima is the crash landing site of some Martian technology.

The video games Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, along with their remakes, feature the fictional Mossdeep Space Center, which is modeled on the Tanegashima Space Center.

In season 2, episode 19 of the Japanese animated television series Assassination Classroom, the students of class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School infiltrate a space center that is based on Tanegashima Space Center.

In the Japanese animated series Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars, Tanegashima figures very prominently in the latter episodes.


Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission (12858254354)

A Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (HMI) H-IIA rocket at TSC

H-IIB F2 launching HTV2

H-IIB Launch Vehicle Flight 2, launching H-II Transfer Vehicle "Kounotori 2" (HTV2).

See also


  1. ^ "JAXA - Tanegashima Space Center". JAXA. 23 September 2018. Archived from the original on 23 February 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.

External links


The ETS-VII, or Engineering Test Satellite No. 7, was a satellite developed and launched by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). It is also known as KIKU-7. It was launched aboard an H-II rocket from Tanegashima Space Center, on 28 November 1997. The ETS-VII was equipped with a 2 metre long robotic arm, which was used to carry out several experiments related to rendezvous docking and space robotics. It was the world's first satellite to be equipped with a robotic arm, and also the first unmanned spacecraft to conduct autonomous rendezvous docking operations successfully. Although it was originally intended to be used for 1.5 years, the satellite was functional for a period of almost five years. ETS-VII eventually decayed from orbit on 13 November 2015.


FedSat (Australia's 'Federation Satellite') is an Australian scientific research satellite launched from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan by a NASDA H-IIA launch vehicle in December 2002 (NASDA is now merged with JAXA). The satellite was developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems, a cooperative made up of several universities, commercial organisations and government bodies. The ground station is at the Institute for Telecommunications Research, part of the University of South Australia, near Adelaide. Since 2005 it was operated by the Australian Department of Defence.

Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite

The Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSat), also known as Ibuki (Japanese: いぶき, Hepburn: Ibuki, meaning "breath"), is an Earth observation satellite and the world's first satellite dedicated to greenhouse-gas-monitoring. It measures the densities of carbon dioxide and methane from 56,000 locations on the Earth's atmosphere. The GOSAT was developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and launched on 23 January 2009, from the Tanegashima Space Center. Japan's Ministry of the Environment, and the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) use the data to track gases causing the greenhouse effect, and share the data with NASA and other international scientific organizations.


H-IIA (H2A) is an active expendable launch system operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The liquid-fueled H-IIA rockets have been used to launch satellites into geostationary orbit, to launch a lunar orbiting spacecraft, and to launch Akatsuki, which studied the planet Venus. Launches occur at the Tanegashima Space Center. The H-IIA first flew in 2001. As of December 2017, H-IIA rockets were launched 37 times, including 31 consecutive missions without a failure, dating back to November 29, 2003.

Production and management of the H-IIA shifted from JAXA to MHI on April 1, 2007. Flight 13, which launched the lunar orbiter SELENE, was the first H-IIA launched after this privatization.The H-IIA is a derivative of the earlier H-II rocket, substantially redesigned to improve reliability and minimize costs. There are currently two (formerly four) different variants of the H-IIA in active service for various purposes. A derivative design, the H-IIB, was developed in the 2000s and made its maiden flight in 2009.


H-IIB (H2B) is an expendable launch system used to launch H-II Transfer Vehicles (HTV, or Kounotori) towards the International Space Station. H-IIB rockets are liquid-fuelled with solid-fuel strap-on boosters and are launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Mitsubishi and JAXA have been primarily responsible for design, manufacture, and operation of H-IIB. H-IIB made its first flight in 2009, and had made a total of seven flights through 2018.

H-IIB is able to carry a payload of up to 8,000 kilograms (18,000 lb) to GTO, compared with the payload of 4,000-6,000 kg for the H-IIA, a predecessor design. Its performance to LEO is sufficient for the 16,500-kilogram (36,400 lb) HTV. The first H-IIB was launched in September 2009.

H3 (rocket)

The H3 Launch Vehicle is an expendable launch system in development in Japan. H3 rockets are liquid-propellant rockets with strap-on solid rocket boosters and are planned to be launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Mitsubishi and the JAXA have been responsible for the design, manufacture, and operation of the H3.

As of July 2015, it was planned that the minimum configuration is to carry a payload of up to 4 tonnes into sun-synchronous orbit for about 5 billion yen, and the maximum configuration is to carry more than 6.5 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit.The first H3 without solid-rocket boosters is planned to launch in fiscal year 2020, and with boosters in FY2021.

Hayato (satellite)

Hayato, known before launch as KSAT, or the Kagoshima Satellite, is a Japanese satellite which was launched in May 2010. It is a student-built spacecraft, which is operated by Kagoshima University, and is being used for technology demonstration and remote sensing. The satellite is a single unit CubeSat, and carries equipment to study water vapour in the Earth's atmosphere, microwave imagery and spacecraft communication.The launch was conducted by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries under contract to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. In preparation for a planned launch on 17 May, the H-IIA rocket was rolled out to Pad 1 of the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center on 16 May 2010. It departed the assembly building at 21:01 UTC and arriving at the launch pad 24 minutes later at 21:25 UTC. The terminal countdown began at 11:30 UTC on 17 May and by 15:28, the loading of cryogenic propellant into the rocket's first and second stages had been completed. The launch attempt was scrubbed a few minutes before liftoff due to bad weather, but took place successfully at 21:58:22 UTC on 20 May 2010.

Hayato was deployed from a JAXA Picosatellite Deployer attached to the second stage of the H-IIA 202 rocket used in the launch of the Akatsuki spacecraft towards Venus. KSAT shared its dispenser with the Negai☆″ satellite, whilst a second dispenser contained Waseda-SAT2. The three CubeSats separated into low Earth orbit during a coast phase of the launch, between the first and second burns of the second stage. The rocket then continued to Heliocentric orbit, where it deployed Akatsuki, along with the IKAROS and UNITEC-1 spacecraft.

Information Gathering Satellite

Information Gathering Satellite (情報収集衛星, Jōhō Shūshū Eisei) is a satellite in a Japanese spy satellite program. It was started as a response to the 1998 North Korean missile test over Japan. The satellite program's main mission is to provide early warning of impending hostile launches in the region. This program is under direct control of the cabinet. All of the Information Gathering Satellites were launched by an H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center.

However, Earth observation is a rather new field for Japan. The first Japanese mission in this field MOS-1 was launched only in 1987.

On 28 March 2003, presumably partly in response to North Korea's launch of a Taepodong-1 rocket over Japan in 1998, and partly to provide a source of satellite images other than through cooperation with the US, where the US charged roughly US$10,000 for each satellite image, Japan launched a radar and an optical spy satellite, officially known as IGS-1A and IGS-1B. These satellites follow one another at 37-minute separation in a 492 km orbit, which passes over Pyongyang at 11:22 each day, according to observations collected on the SeeSat-L mailing list.The program suffered a setback when Japan lost the second pair of satellites because of an H-IIA launch failure on 29 November 2003.Except the satellite which failed in launching, a second optical surveillance satellite IGS 3A was launched on 11 September 2006.A third optical satellite IGS 4A and a second radar satellite IGS 4B were launched on 24 February 2007. IGS 4A is a more advanced and experimental optical satellite.A fourth optical satellite IGS 5A was launched on 28 November 2009. This satellite has a higher resolution than the previous generations.Late March 2007, the first SAR satellite in the series, IGS 1B, suffered a critical power failure. The satellite has since been observed to steadily come down and was clearly no longer under control. An uncontrolled re-entry of this satellite occurred on 26 July 2012. Since summer 2010, another of the SAR satellites, IGS 4B has also been unable to carry out its monitoring functions.

Japanese Lunar Exploration Program

The (Japanese) Lunar Exploration Program (月探査計画), is a program of robotic and human missions to the Moon undertaken by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and its division, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). It is also one of the three major enterprises of the JAXA Space Exploration Center (JSPEC). The main goal of the program is "to elucidate the origin and evolution of the Moon and utilize the Moon in the future".The first spacecraft of the program, the unmanned lunar orbiter SELENE (Kaguya), was launched from Tanegashima Space Center on September 14, 2007, after being delayed several times. SELENE-2, Japan's first lunar lander and rover, is expected to be launched in the 2020s. The program also includes a lunar sample return mission (SELENE-3), a mission to Mars to collect data for future manned expeditions (MELOS), participation in the Mars international sample return mission, and an advanced lander for future human missions to the Moon. The eventual goal is to participate in an international lunar outpost program, in which Japanese crews would stay on the lunar surface for a prolonged period of time and promote scientific research and environment utilization.


KhalifaSat is a remote sensing Earth observation satellite manufactured in the United Arab Emirates at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). It was the first satellite to be built in the clean rooms of the Dubai government's space science and research facility and the first to be developed entirely by a team of Emirati engineers. It launched into orbit on 30 October 2018 from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is a Dubai government based space centre working on the National Space programme. MBRSC already has two Earth observation satellites in orbit, DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, which were built in partnership with Satrec Initiative, a South Korean satellite manufacturer.The project was officially announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Ruler of Dubai, in December 2013. The manufacture of KhalifaSat began in South Korea at Satrec Initiative's facilities. A team of Emirati engineers used the facilities there while the Advanced Technology Laboratories at MBRSC were under construction. In early 2015, the project was moved to MBRSC where every aspect of its development continued.


Kirobo is Japan's first robot astronaut, developed by University of Tokyo and Tomotaka Takahashi, to accompany Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station. Kirobo arrived on the ISS on August 10, 2013 on JAXA's H-II Transfer Vehicle Kounotori 4, an unmanned resupply spacecraft launched August 4, 2013 from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center. A twin to Kirobo, named Mirata, was created with the same characteristics. Mirata will stay on Earth as a backup crew member.

The word "kirobo" itself is a portmanteau of "kibō" (希望), which means "hope" in Japanese, and the word "robo" (ロボ), used as a generic short word for any robot.

Kounotori 4

Kounotori 4, also known as HTV-4, was the fourth flight of the H-II Transfer Vehicle, an unmanned cargo spacecraft launched in August 2013 to resupply the International Space Station. It launched from Tanegashima Space Center aboard H-IIB rocket on August 3, 2013 and connected to ISS by August 9, 2013; it carried 5.4 tons of cargo. Kounotori 4 undocked on September 4, 2013 and was destroyed by reentry on 7 September 2013.


Magnetic Bearing Flywheel Experimental System (MABES), also known as Jindai (じんだい) is a National Space Development Agency of Japan(NASDA) satellite mission. It conducted experiments on the levitation of the magnetic bearing flywheel in a zero-G environment, and tested the function of the launch lock mechanism.On 12 August 1986, Jindai was launched from Tanegashima Space Center aboard the maiden flight of H-I rocket, along with Ajisai and Fuji.

Jindai is attached to the second stage of the H-1 rocket, and as of 2013, still remains in low Earth orbit.


Mission Demonstration Satellite 1 (MDS-1) or Tsubasa is a Japanese technology test mission. It was launched by the second H-2A on February 4, 2002 from the Tanegashima Space Center. After the launch, MDS-1 was renamed Tsubasa, meaning wings in Japanese. Tsubasa was placed in a geostationary transfer orbit. It ended its operational phase on February 26, 2003. A similar mission, MDS-2, was cancelled.The purpose of the mission was to test the performance of commercial off-the-shelf components, including solar batteries, semiconductors and computers.. MDS-1 also carried instrumentation to observe how changes in the environment as the satellite passed through the Van Allen radiation belts affected the performance of each component. Among these instruments were a dosimeter using radiation-sensitive field effect transistors, a magnetometer, and a device for tracking heavy ions. During the mission, MDS-1 tracked the occurrence of single event upsets, finding the majority occurred while passing the inner belt during solar maximum and were likely caused by high energy protons. The whole weight of the satellite was 480 kg.

MOS-1 (satellite)

Marine Observation Satellite 1 (MOS-1), also known as Momo-1, was Japan's first Earth observation satellite. It was launched on 19 February 1987 on a N-II rocket from Tanegashima Space Center and was operated by the National Space Development Agency of Japan.

It has three instruments: "Multi-Spectral Electronic Self-Scanning Radiometer (MESSR)" which offers 50m resolution in two visible and two infra-red spectral bands over two 100 km swathes; "Visible and Thermal Infrared Radiometer (VTIR)" which has a much lower resolution in one visible and three IR bands over a 1500 km swathe; "Micro Scanning Radiometer (MSR)" which measures microwave emission in the 23 GHz and 31 GHz bands.

Its NORAD ID is 17527; it is in a polar orbit at roughly 900 km altitude, but has not been active since November 1995.

Minamitane, Kagoshima

Minamitane (南種子町, Minamitane-chō) is a town located on Tanegashima, in Kumage District, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

As of June 2013, the town has an estimated population of 5,925 and a population density of 53.8 persons per km². The total area is 110.40 km².

The headquarters of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are located at the Tanegashima Space Center in Minamitane.


Tanegashima (種子島) is one of the Ōsumi Islands belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The island, 444.99 km² in area, is the second largest of the Ōsumi Islands, and has a population of 33,000 persons. Access to the island is by ferry, or by air to New Tanegashima Airport. Administratively, the island is divided into the city, Nishinoomote, and the two towns, Nakatane and Minamitane. The towns belong to Kumage District.

Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) was a joint space mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) designed to monitor and study tropical rainfall. The term refers to both the mission itself and the satellite that the mission used to collect data. TRMM was part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, a long-term, coordinated research effort to study the Earth as a global system. The satellite was launched on November 27, 1997 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Tanegashima, Japan. TRMM operated for 17 years, including several mission extensions, before being decommissioned in April 2015. TRMM re-entered Earth's atmosphere on June 16, 2015.


WINDS (Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite, also known as Kizuna), was a Japanese communication satellite. Launch was originally scheduled for 2007. The launch date was eventually set for 15 February 2008, but a problem detected in a second stage maneuvering thruster delayed it to 23 February. Lift-off occurred at 08:55 GMT on 23 February from Tanegashima Space Center, and the satellite separated from its H-IIA carrier rocket into a Geosynchronous transfer orbit at 09:23. WINDS was used to relay the internet to Japanese homes and businesses through Ka-Band signals. It also tested technologies that would be utilised by future Japanese communication satellites. A part of Japan's i-Space program, WINDS was operated by JAXA and NICT.

Prior to launch, a JAXA brochure claimed that WINDS will be able to provide 155 Mbit/s download speeds to home users with 45-centimetre diameter satellite dishes, while providing industrial users via 5-metre diameter dishes with 1.2 Gbit/s speeds.WINDS had a launch mass of 4,850 kg, reducing to a mass of around 2,750 kg after thrusting to its operational orbit. The spacecraft is 8 m x 3 m x 2 m in size, and its solar panels have a span of 21.5 metres. It has three-axis stabilisation, and a design life expectancy of five years.

The satellite became inoperable due to communications failure on 9 February 2019, and it was decommissioned by the transmission of a deactivation command at 06:54 GMT on 27 February 2019.

Operations and research
Tracking Stations


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