Image: Govt of Japan

What’s New: Japan is increasing the number of its regional navigation satellites from 4 to either 7 or 11.  Either way will allow users positioning, navigation, and timing independently from GPS.

Why It’s Important: 

  • Nations are concerned GPS may be disrupted by cyber, physical, or other attack. Many are looking for alternatives.
  • This kind of project boosts a nation’s space-oriented and overall tech economy.

What Isn’t Clear Yet:

  • How much added resilience this will give Japan and other users. Their system, QZSS, is now used to augment GPS and uses the same frequencies.
  • The total number of satellites planned.  Multiple press reports say 11. The official webpage says 7. The goal is to have at least 4 over Japan at any given time to enable an independent navigational solution in three dimensions.


Japan Plans to Increase QZSS Satellites From Four to 11

The satellite constellation will not have to rely on GPS to operate

Japan this week announced plans to increase the number of its navigation satellites from four to 11.  The announcement, made by the country’s space policy committee, allows Japan to operate its Michibiki Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) without relying on the U.S.-based GPS, according to Nikkei Asia.

While no launch timetable was publicly revealed for the additional satellites, in a December 2022 space policy document, Japan called for a seven-satellite constellation to be launched in fiscal years 2023 to 2024, depending on the status of the H3 launch vehicle.