Japan's failed rocket launch dampens industry hopes

Japan's plan to make space more accessible with a lower-cost rocket option was foiled yesterday.

Japan's first new rocket in over a decade has failed to launch, prompting industry experts to question whether the country will be able to tap into the lucrative satellite industry.

On Tuesday, Japan's "Epsilon" rocket, stationed at Uchinoura launch center, was due to lift off. After the countdown went to zero, nothing happened -- and the launch was halted due to an unspecified glitch.

The Epsilon is Japan's first new rocket since the H-IIA was launched in 2001. The Epsilon, 80 feet high and weighing just over 100 tons, has been touted as a low-cost alternative to its predecessor.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the rocket was meant to release a spectroscopic planet observatory satellite called SPRINT-A, a space telescope designed for the remote observation of planets.

Failure to launch the Epsilon, an unmanned, smart device which is meant to be able to conduct its own status checks, is likely to hinder Japan's entry into the lucrative satellite market. Had the launch proven successful, then the lower-cost rocket could have become a popular product for companies looking to use satellite technology, as operational costs of missions would be lowered -- and so more frequent rocket launches could take place.

"Through increased launch opportunities, we anticipate that space development activity will increase," JAXA officials say in the Epsilon rocket description. "The biggest goal of the Epsilon Launch Vehicle is to make space more accessible as rocket launches are made easier."

Via: Reuters

Image credit: Jaxa

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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