Tokyo: Japan has launched two intelligence satellites into orbit.
Officials say the launch of the domestically produced HII-A rocket on Sunday went smoothly and the satellites, an operational radar satellite and an experimental optical probe, appear to have reached orbit.
The radar satellite is intended to augment a network of several probes that Japan uses to collect intelligence on hotspots around the world, while the optical probe will be used to test future technology.
Japan began the intelligence satellite programme after North Korea fired a long-range missile over Japan`s main island in 1998. North Korea conducted a launch last month that it says carried a satellite into orbit but has been condemned by the US and others as a cover for its development of missile technology.