|The Center of Artificial Satellite Launching
Located in the southeast edge of Tanegashima of Osumi Islands, which is about 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the southern tip of Kyushu, Tanegashima Space Center is one of the field centers of the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), the country's leading organization in the field of space development. The Center was built in 1966 as an experimental facility for launching small rockets. Since it launched the first Japanese engineering test satellite "Kiku" in 1975, many meteorological satellites and communications satellites have been sent into space from Tanegashima. Tanegashima Space Center is in charge of the series of operations from pre-launch preparations and countdowns to post-launch tracking, and thus performs an indispensable role in the launching of rockets and satellites in Japan.
In the Center's complex, there are the Takesaki Range for launching small experimental rockets, the Osaki Range which mainly launches H-II, the Japanese principal rocket for artificial satellites, the Masuda Tracking and Communication Station for tracking and control of satellites, and other related facilities such as radar stations and optical observation facilities.
At the Space Museum opened here in 1979, a variety of exhibits concerning space development are on display, and space development information is also available through the Museum. Construction of the International Space Station, a permanent and multi-purpose manned facility in space, is scheduled to start in 1998 with participation of the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia, and Japan. A life-size model of the pressurized module of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) which is to be attached to the International Space Station is one of the highlights of the Museum's exhibits.
Photo: Launch of the H-II rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
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