Japan is set to fire seven satellites into orbit over the coming years as part of plans to enhance GPS so locations can be pin-pointed to within centimetres rather than metres.The Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) project began back in 2010 with the launch of QZS-1 “Michibiki”, and engineers at contractor Mitsubishi Electric told IEEE Spectrum magazine this week that it’s on track for a 2018 commercial switch on. A total of four satellites will be in place by then over Japan, parts of Asia and Australia – with at least one always directly over Japan. Another three will follow after 2018, to be placed in orbit over the equator, in a project likely to cost a little over $2bn in total. Rather than replace the US system wholesale, the aim is apparently to correct any inaccuracies in GPS tracking so that locations in Japan can be calculated down to within centimetres.
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