A Japanese rocket carrying several satellites failed to launch on Wednesday (12), forcing the spacecraft to be destroyed after liftoff, the space agency said. Japan (JAXA), thus facing a severe setback in its space program.
It was the first failed launch since 2003 and the first failure of an operational solid-fuel Epsilon rocket since 2013.
Since then, it has had five successful launches.
JAXA abruptly stopped broadcasting Epsilon-6’s live launch from the space center in southern Kagoshima.
The space program’s director, Yasuhiro Funo, said the rocket was sent a self-destruct command ten minutes after liftoff due to “positioning anomalies.”
At a press conference, Funo explained that the technical problem was detected before the third and final stage of the launch, just as the last booster was about to ignite.
“We implemented the rocket’s self-destruct sequence because if we can’t get it into the intended orbit, we don’t know where it will go,” he explained.
After the mission’s failure, fragments of the rocket fell into the sea east of the Philippines.
The rocket was intended to launch multiple satellites into orbit and was designed for a three-stage launch.
Jaxa president Hiroshi Yamagawa apologized for the failure, saying the agency “deeply regrets that we were unable to meet the expectations of the Japanese people.”
A rocket lifts off from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Uchinura Space Center (JAXA) – Photo: Kyoto via REUTERS
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