Japan destroys new rocket minutes after lift-off

Japan was forced to blow up its new rocket during a failed launch on Tuesday, setting back efforts to crack a market led by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Its space agency had to send a self-destruct com­mand to the H3 rocket when its second-stage engine failed minutes after lift-off.

Observers say it is a sig­nificant setback for Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The government called the test failure “extremely regrettable”.The H3 rocket is the first medium-lift rocket designed by Japan in three decades. It has been present­ed as a cheaper alternative to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for launching commercial and government satellites into Earth’s orbit.

On Tuesday, engineers had aimed to send the 57m (187ft) rocket into space with a monitoring satellite on board. The ALOS-3 system is capable of detecting North Korean missile launches.

But JAXA said soon after launch, engineers were forced to send a self-destruct prompt to the H3 after it experienced “reduced veloci­ty” in the second stage of its launch.

Tuesday’s launch came after an aborted launch in February, when the rocket failed to get off the launch pad due to faulty rocket boosters.

“Unlike the previous can­cellation and postponement, this time it was a complete failure,” Hirotaka Watanabe, a space policy professor at Osaka University, told Reuters.

“This will have a serious impact on Japan’s future space policy, space business and technological competi­tiveness,” he added. —Reuters

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