Japanese space agency failed to launch its Epsilon rocket

(ORDO NEWS) — A planned Wednesday launch of a Japanese rocket to put satellites into orbit failed due to a positioning problem, the country’s space agency said. It was the first unsuccessful launch in Japan in nearly two decades.

The Epsilon rocket is a solid-propellant model that has completed five successful flights so far since its debut in 2013.

The unmanned aerial vehicle launched from the Uchinoura Space Center in the southern region of Kagoshima. The takeoff was broadcast live by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The self-destruct signal was sent to the missile less than 10 minutes later due to “positioning anomalies”. The live broadcast was stopped and the hosts informed the viewers that there was a problem with the launch.

Yasuhiro Funo of JAXA explained at a press conference that a technical problem was discovered before the final launch phase.

“We ordered the rocket to be destroyed because if we couldn’t get it into its planned orbit, we wouldn’t know where it would go,” he said.

Rocket debris is believed to have fallen into the sea east of the Philippines.

Japan’s last failed space launch was a pair of spy satellites to monitor North Korea in 2003. The only time JAXA issued an order to destroy a missile was in 1999.

The 26-meter Epsilon-6 rocket was supposed to deliver a satellite into orbit for experiments, as well as eight microsatellites.

Researchers and private companies have developed new technologies for testing in space as part of the agency’s third program to demonstrate innovative satellite technologies.

According to a JAXA fact sheet, their equipment ranged from a “pulse-plasma engine” to an experiment to “harvest energy with (a) a lightweight integrated origami structure.”

The Epsilon rocket is smaller than the previous liquid-fueled model and is the successor to the M-5 solid rocket, which was discontinued in 2006 due to its high cost.

JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa apologized for the setback on Wednesday, saying the agency is terribly sorry they failed to meet the expectations of the Japanese people.

“We will make efforts to find out the cause and take countermeasures,” Yamakawa said.

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