(CTN NEWS) – TOKYO –According to officials, the auxiliary booster engines failed to ignite during the first launch of Japan’s next-generation H3 rocket on Friday.
According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the primary rocket engine had already started to fire when the launch was aborted. The rocket carried an observation satellite and an experimental sensor to detect missile launches.
“I’m aware that many people anticipated and waited for this day. Very sorry again. Masashi Okada, project manager for JAXA, wiped away tears as he addressed a news conference, “We also feel tremendously remorseful and frustrated.
As a result of safety mechanisms that worked as intended, Okada regarded it as an aborted launch rather than a failure.
Yet, the aborted launch at the southern Japanese spaceport of Tanegashima was a setback for Japan’s space program, which had already experienced a failed launch of a smaller Epsilon-series solid-fueled rocket to carry out scientific satellite launches in October.
After being delayed by over two years from 2020 due to an engine development delay, the H3 unveiling was postponed earlier in the week due to bad weather.
The H3 rocket, Japan’s first new series in almost 22 years, was created by JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for 200 billion yen ($1.5 billion) to replace the H-2A rocket, which will be retired after its approaching 50th launch.
The main engine of the H3 successfully ignited, according to Okada, but the signal to fire a pair of auxiliary boosters was not delivered because a process anomaly that had not been recognized was discovered.
He claimed the issue did not include the engines and was most likely a first-stage electrical system.
Okada promised that “we would look into the problem as soon as we can and try again.”
He expressed hope that the issue may be fixed in time for a further launch attempt before the current launch window expires on March 10.
The rocket carries a Defense Ministry-developed experimental infrared sensor that can track military activity, including missile launches.
And an Advanced Land Observation Satellite primarily responsible for Earth observation and data collection for mapping and disaster response.
Compared to the 53-meter-long (174-foot) H-2A, the H3, which is around 60 meters (196 ft) long, can carry greater cargo.
However, to attract more commercial launch clients, its launch cost has been reduced roughly in half to about 50 million yen ($371,000) by simplifying its design, manufacture, and operation.
By changing the combustion process, the newly developed primary engine for hydrogen employs fewer parts.
The space launch industry is getting increasingly crowded with big participants like SpaceX and Arianespace.
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