Japan sends Hello Kitty into space
By Minami Funakoshi
TOKYO (Reuters) - Hello Kitty, Japan's ambassador of cute, is on a government-funded mission to space.
The project to launch Sanrio Co Ltd's white cat with a pink bow into orbit is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to promote Japan's high-tech industry and engineer economic growth.
A 4-cm (1.6-inch) tall Hello Kitty figure is aboard the Hodoyoshi-3 satellite, looking through a window at Earth, Sanrio announced this week.
The satellite, which is about the size of a large rubbish bin, was developed by Japanese researchers as part of a $40 million program funded by the education and science ministry.
The goal of the project is to get more private companies interested in working with satellites, said Toshiki Tanaka, researcher in charge of the project at the University of Tokyo's Nano-Satellite Center.
Developers chose Sanrio as their first private partner after judging that it could get Hello Kitty's many fans interested in space, Tanaka said.
"Through this project we can make those people interested and stimulate their scientific curiosity. We can move their hearts," Tanaka told Reuters.
The Hello Kitty project, which launched in June, has been one of trial and error for the Tokyo-based satellite developers. Continued...