Japan instructs its space rocket to self-destruct after failed launch

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Japan’s space agency revealed that on Wednesday (October 12) it had to send a self-destruct instruction to its Epsilon rocket after a failed launch. The rocket was found to be unsafe to fly.  

The country’s public broadcaster NHK and other local media reported that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) admitted that a problem had been discovered. 

NHK also said that it was the first failure of a major Japanese rocket launch since 2003, and the first of the Epsilon series of rockets. 

With Epsilon, Japan was to launch a variety of technology-demonstrating payloads to orbit and the mission was called Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration 3. This was Japan’s first orbital liftoff of 2022. 

Epsilon was flying RAISE 3 (Rapid Innovative payload demonstration Satellite 3), which is a roughly 100 kilograms spacecraft. It was carrying seven separate technologies that were supposed to get a test in Earth orbit. 

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The space agency had also provided a live stream of the launch from Uchinoura Space Center in the southern Kagoshima region but it was interrupted. Without giving any details, the presenters said that some problems have occurred. 

Notably, the solid-fuel Epsilon rocket has been successfully launched five times. It has been in service since 2013. On being compared with other similar rockets, the Epsilon rocket is smaller than the country’s previous liquid-fuelled model. Also, it is a successor to Japan’s solid-fuel M-5 rocket which was retired in 2006 due to its high cost. 

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