Japan’s space agency intentionally destroyed an H3 rocket moments after launch because the ignition for the second stage failed.
TOKYO — Japan’s space agency deliberately destroyed a new H3 rocket moments before its launch on Tuesday after the second stage of the country’s first new rocket series in more than two decades failed to ignite.
Coming three weeks after an aborted launch due to a separate glitch, the H3’s failure is a setback for Japan’s space program — and possibly for its missile detection program. of it — and a disappointment for space fans rooting for Tuesday’s retest.
The rocket carries an Advanced Land Observation Satellite, tasked with observing the Earth and collecting data for disaster response and mapping, and an experimental infrared sensor developed by the Defense Ministry that can monitor the activity of military including missile launch.
The H3 rocket with a white head blasted off and flew into the blue sky from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan as fans and local residents cheered. It followed its planned trajectory and the second stage separated as planned, but its ignition failed, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.
JAXA said it sent an order to destroy the rocket because there was no hope of completing its mission. Officials are investigating the cause of the failure, and are expected to provide early findings at a news conference later Tuesday.
The failure was the second in six months since a small Epsilon-series solid-fueled rocket designed to launch scientific satellites failed in October.
The launch of the H3 was also delayed by more than two years due to delays in engine development. During a test launch in February, an electrical glitch after the main engine ignition stopped the launch before it could liftoff and narrowly saved the rocket.
The H3 rocket – Japan’s first new series in more than 22 years – was developed at a cost of 200 billion yen ($1.47 billion) by JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the successor to Japan’s H-2A rocket, which was due to retirement after this. upcoming 50th launch.
The H3, about 60 meters (196 feet) long, can carry larger payloads than the 53 meters (174 feet) H-2A. But its launch costs have been cut in half to about 50 million yen ($368,000) by simplifying its design, manufacturing and operation in an effort to win more customers for commercial launch. The hydrogen-fueled main engine is newly developed and uses fewer parts by changing the combustion method.
The space launch business has become increasingly competitive, with major players including SpaceX and Arianespace.