Japan's first new rocket in 12 years failed to lift off on Tuesday (August 27), dealing a potential blow to Japan's hopes of a larger share of the growing, multi-billion dollar satellite launch industry. (Courtesy: RTV/Handout/CBS)
Japan's first new rocket in 12 years failed to lift off on Tuesday (August 27), dealing a potential blow to Japan's hopes of 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 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Uchinoura launch center some 1000 kilometers ( 621 miles) south of Tokyo was broadcast live over the Internet and on several national television stations. But nothing happened at the end of the countdown.
JAXA later said the launch was halted with 19 seconds to go after the rocket detected a problem with its positioning.
"The Epsilon rocket stopped during its automatic countdown sequence at 19 seconds and the launch was stopped automatically due to an anomaly in its positioning. Today's launch has been cancelled. We are currently looking into the cause," explained JAXA's Director of Public Affairs, Koji Terada.
The three-stage Epsilon rocket - named for the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet – is 80 feet (24.4 meters) ( 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 the SPRINT-A telescope into space for observation of the solar system.
The rocket's smaller size and a computer system that allows it to perform its own system checks means it can be assembled quickly and is expected to cut both personnel and equipment costs.
Launch control can be carried out over a network with as little as a laptop computer, greatly reducing costs, and is expected to make launches more mobile as they could take place at more sites.