TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Japanese government is mulling over a proposal to launch numerous micro-satellites to observe Chinese activity around the Diaoyutai Islands and South China Sea, Japanese Newspaper Sankei Shimbun said on August 15.
The report said the plan would allow for surveillance lasting significantly longer, and would come at a drastically reduced cost.
The Diaoyutai Islands, which are located 170 kilometers northeast of Taiwan, are administered by Japan, despite competing land claims by China and Taiwan. Japan views the Diaoyutai Islands as increasingly under threat from Chinese encroachment.
A Japanese official was quoted by Sankei Shimbun as saying that micro-satellites are likely to be used by Japan in the future, and this will become a global trend.
The report suggests that Japan hopes to have a reconnaissance satellite fleet totaling 10 by 2026, and that international competition in this space is heating up. China already has 20 spy satellites, with at least one passing over Japan per day.
While traditional satellites cost tens of billions of Japanese yen, the report suggests that micro satellites cost less than one billion. A fleet of satellites also opens greater scope for long-term surveillance, giving Japan the capacity to track a vessel from the moment in leaves harbor.
Sankei Shimbun suggests that Synthetic-aperture radar, radar that works in both bad weather and during night can also be miniaturized to fit inside the satellites, and will be included in Japan's project
Japanese space company iQPS Inc. are reportedly engaged in the plan, with a test launch planned for next summer.