July 18, 2017

WNISAT-1R Successfully Launched, Commissioning Started

Weathernews’s second private micro-satellite will observe sea ice, typhoons and volcano ash

Earth-observation micro-satellite WNISAT-1R, developed by Axelspace Corporation (HQ: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Yuya Nakamura) with Weathernews Inc., has been launched at 6:36 AM UTC time of July 14, 2017 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Along with WNISAT-1R Kanopus1, the rocket’s main payload, and 71 other small satellites were launched. After orbit insertion, communication with the satellite was successfully established upon its first transits above Japan, at 10:24 PM~10:36 PM Japan time. The commissioning phase of the satellite, in which initial checks of all onboard systems and devices are performed, is currently under way.


With a mass of 43kg, the microsatellite WNISAT-1R is equipped with an optical camera to observe atmospheric and marine natural phenomena. To provide high quality information about the best sea routes in places like the Bohai Sea (China) and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence (Canada) during the winter and the Arctic Sea during the summer, it is necessary to frequently measure the distribution of sea ice. The most effective way to do this is with a dedicated satellite in space, and WNISAT-1R has been built to be such a satellite. Developed jointly by Axelspace and Weathernews, it inherits and improves on its predecessor WNISAT-1, which was launched in 2013. Moreover, besides its main mission described above, WNISAT-1R has the additional missions of observing atmospheric phenomena such as typhoons and volcanic activity and the analysis of ground conditions based on reflected signals from GPS and other navigation satellites, a technology called GNSS-R (Global Navigation Satellite System – Reflectometry)(1).

Main Specifications of WNISAT-1R

The number of cameras 4 (independent bands)
Spectral Bands PAN(2)(450-650nm), G(535-607nm)
R(620-680nm), NIR(695-1005nm)
Pixel Count 2048 × 2048
Ground Resolution PAN, G: 200m
R, NIR: 400m
Bit Depth 12bit

Operation Phases on Launch Day

Japan Time Event
15:36 Launch from the base in Baikonur, Kazakhstan
18:05 Separation from rocket and orbit insertion
19:07 Confirmation of successful separation by signal from the rocket
22:13 Orbital information provided by launch provider
22:24 First signal received from WNISAT-1R, confirmation that all operations are nominal

WNISAT-1R mounted on the rocket


1 GNSS: acronym standing for Global Navigation Satellite System. Besides the GPS constellation developed and operated by the United States, the term also covers other projects such as Russia’s GLONASS and Europe’s Galileo.
2 PAN: abbreviation of “panchromatic”. It refers to a single band that is sensitive to all visible wavelengths for this satellite.

Download PDF
About Axelspace

Head office location:
Clip Nihonbashi Building 2-3F,
3-3-3 Nihonbashi-Honcho, Chuo-ku,
Tokyo 103-0023, Japan
President & CEO: Yuya Nakamura
Establishment: August 8, 2008
Capital stock: 1,957 Million JPY (as of July 2017)
Main business content: Solutions based on microsatellite technology,
design and production of microsatellites and related components,
launch arrangements and operational support, business related to
microsatellite data

Fumika Sannomiya
TEL: +81-3-4405-5085
FAX: +81-50-5578-6351