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Wednesday, 2nd November 2016
In General Japan News,

Japanese rocket used to launch weather satellite is kitted out in manga

An innovative new approach has been used by the Japanese to try and engage a younger audience in science and the mysteries of the universe.

When a new weather satellite was launched into space today (November 2nd), the rocket that set off the journey was bedecked in manga images.

It was 3.20pm local time when the H-IIA rocket with the Himawari-9 weather satellite on board blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Combining the launch with the artwork popular with children is seen as a way to promote the work that is carried out by scientists.

The two pieces of manga included on the rocket were carefully chosen and it was drawings by Chuya Koyama that inspired the images emblazoned on the shell.

He shot to fame as the creator of Space Brothers about two boys that dream of becoming astronauts and his work has gone on to win him many fans and a number of prestigious awards.

Hirokazu Kosada of the Young Astronauts Club Japan, the foundation that organised the manga project, said: "We believe it's the first time in the world to launch a rocket with manga art on it."

Using Space Brothers as the theme, some 30,000 digital images of paintings and photographs submitted by Japanese children were added to the rocket.

A total of 12 jumping children can be seen as the overall image on the upper section of the 53-metre long rocket.

This piece of manga alone measures three metres in height, making it a striking sight for those watching the launch.

Mr Kosada told AFP: "We wanted children in Japan to be interested in space and the weather."

Japan has an extensive space program and has successfully launched scientific and commercial satellites into space.