Tokyo: Japan’s new medium-lift rocket failed on its debut flight in space on Tuesday after the launcher’s second-stage engine did not ignite as planned, in a blow to its efforts to cut the cost of accessing space.
The 57-metre tall H3 rocket, Japan’s first new model in three decades, lifted off without a hitch from the Tanegashima space port, a live-streamed broadcast by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) showed.
But upon reaching space, the rocket’s second-stage engine failed to ignite, forcing mission officials to manually destroy the vehicle 14 minutes into the flight, Reuters reported.
JAXA said It was decided the rocket could not complete its mission, so the destruct command was sent.
The failed attempt followed an aborted launch last month, and the debris would have fallen into the ocean east of the Philippines.
Keiko Nagaoka, Science and Technology Minister, said in a statement that the government had established a task force to investigate the “very regrettable” failure.
“This will have a serious impact on Japan’s future space policy, space business and technological competitiveness,” said Hirotaka Watanabe, a professor at Osaka University with expertise in space policy.