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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Launch of Japan's Epsilon Rocket Cancelled

Epsilon rocket on the launch pad minutes before the launch. Credit: nhk.or.jp

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cancelled today's launch of the first Epsilon Launch Vehicle (Epsilon-1) with the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) onboard from the Uchinoura Space Center, because an automatic stop alarm was issued as an attitude abnormality was detected approximately 19 seconds prior to the liftoff time during the automatic countdown sequence. The launch had been originally scheduled for 1:45:00 p.m. today (Japan Standard Time). JAXA is currently investigating the cause. The rocket remains on the launch pad.

A representative of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) told The Associated Press that the launch, scheduled for 1:45 p.m. local time, was called off after “an irregularity in the rocket posture was detected.”

It was the second setback for the Epsilon rocket this month.

An earlier launch was postponed because of a computer glitch. No word was immediately available on the cause of the problem on Tuesday or when the launch might be tried again.

The countdown at Japan's Uchinoura launch center was broadcast live over the Internet, with commentary in English as well as Japanese. But nothing happened at the end of the countdown.



A three-stage rocket, the Epsilon - named for the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet - is 24.4 meters (80 feet) high, about half the size of Japan's workhorse H2A rocket. It weighs 91 metric tons (100.31 tons) and has been touted as a new, low-cost alternative. Epsilon was set to carry the SPRINT-A scientific research satellite into low Earth orbit to gather data on the atmosphere of Mars, Venus and other planets.

Epsilon rocket. Credit: JAXA
Epsilon rocket. Credit: JAXA

Epsilon, known as Japan’s “cheaper, smarter” rocket, was built to replace the M-5 which was in service from 1997 through 2006.

Credit: JAXAReutersRIA Novosti

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