Japan's Newest Rocket Fails To Lift Off

By Elaine Lies/Reuters
August 27, 2013
Credit: JAXA

Japan’s first new rocket in 12 years failed to lift off on Tuesday, dealing a potential blow to hopes that Japan may be able to take a larger share of the growing, multi-billion dollar satellite launch industry.

It was the second setback for the Epsilon rocket this month.

An earlier launch was postponed because of a computer glitch. No word was immediately available on the cause of the problem on Tuesday or when the launch might be tried again.

The countdown at Japan’s Uchinoura launch centre was broadcast live over the Internet, with commentary in English as well as Japanese. But nothing happened at the end of the countdown.

JAXA, Japan’s space agency, later said the launch was halted with 19 seconds to go. Japanese media said an “irregularity” had been detected.

A three-stage rocket, the Epsilon - named for the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet - is 24.4 meters (80 feet) high, about half the size of Japan’s workhorse H2A rocket. It weighs 91 tons and has been touted as a new, low-cost alternative.

The rocket was scheduled to carry a telescope into space for observation of the solar system.

Analysts said it was not immediately clear how much of an impact the failure would have on Japan’s ambitions to cash in on the international satellite launch industry.

“This was the first flight and it was already postponed once and now will be postponed again,” said Yukihiro Kumagai, an analyst at Jefferies & Co securities in Tokyo.


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