Japan wants to become a new force in space. The country is currently planning to launch a swarm of up to 100 mini-satellites, each costing between $3 million and $4 million. Sized at around 50cm, the cubicle-shaped satellites are supposedly not bigger than school backpacks.
The 50kg-satellites will be used to track natural disasters, gather weather data and predict traffic jams. This initiative is part of a national business revitalization program that includes a $150 billion stimulus package for the next three years.
The satellites are expected to deliver data from low orbit by 2011 at the earliest. A spokesman for the Japanese government says the advantages of the mini satellites lie in high deployment speed and low development costs. Japan will use rockets from Russia to shoot the satellites up for cost reasons.
The country launched its first satellite back in 1970. Just last month, Japan announced it aims at letting robots and humans work hand in hand on the moon by 2030. The picture shows a mini satellite made by Japanese university students last year.
Via Yomiuri [JP]