First quasi-zenith satellite, Michibiki, achieves final orbit

September 28, 2010  - By
Image: GPS World

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has controlled the orbit of the first quasi-zenith satellite system (QZSS) satellite, Michibiki. JAXA inserted Michibiki into the quasi-zenith orbit from the drift orbit starting on Sept. 21. The final orbit control operation was performed for about 50 seconds from 6:28 a.m. on Sept. 27 JST (Japan Standard Time).

After the operation, JAXA confirmed that the satellite was successfully injected into its preordained quasi-zenith orbit with its center longitude of about 135 degrees through the orbit calculation. The calculation results are as follows.

Michibiki was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center at 8:17 p.m. JST on Sept. 11.

JAXA will carry out the initial functional verification of the onboard mission devices in cooperation with organizations that will perform technological verifications for about three months. These organizations include the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, the Electronic Navigation Research Institute, and the Satellite Positioning Research and Application Center.

JAXA provided these definitions of drift and quasi-zenith orbit:

Drift orbit: The last step orbit prior to the quasi-zenith orbit. The orbit altitude and inclination (angle against the equator) are equal to those of the quasi-zenith orbit, but the longitude of the center of the figure-8 orbit is not above Japan. After being injected into the drift orbit, it will take a few days to maneuver the satellite to have its figure-8 center above Japan, thus it will ultimately fly in the quasi-zenith orbit.

Quasi-zenith orbit: While the quasi-zenith orbit has the same orbit period of 23 hours and 56 minutes as the geostationary orbit, it can let a satellite stay over Japan longer by taking an elliptical orbit with higher altitude above Japan and flying in a figure-8 orbit.