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Japan forced to send self-destruct command to rocket after failed launch

Japan’s space agency had to destroy a new rocket within seconds of its launch.

After the ignition for its second stage failed, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency had to issue a self-destruct instruction to its H3 rocket just 14 minutes into its flight.

This comes three weeks after the country’s space program had to cancel a launch at Tanegashima Space Centre, southern Japan due to a separate glitch.

Officials are currently investigating Tuesday’s failure and will release their preliminary findings later.


“It was determined that the rocket couldn’t complete its mission so the destruct command (JAXA) was sent,” JAXA stated in a statement.

Japan’s Science and Technology Minister Keiko Nakaoka stated that the government has established a taskforce to investigate the “very regrettable failure”.

Hirotaka Watanabe (a professor at Osaka University who is an expert in space policy) said that “This will have serious consequences on Japan’s future Space Policy, Space Business, and Technological Competitiveness.”

Image Photo: Kyodo via Reuters

Japan’s first new series of rockets in over 22 years, the H3 rocket cost PS1.22 Billion (200 Billion yen) and took 22 years to build.

This rocket was created by JAXA, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to replace Japan’s H-2A rocket. It is expected to retire in 50 years.

The rocket’s development was marred by problems. A development problem caused the launch to be delayed by more than two years.

By simplifying the design, manufacturing, and operation of the rocket’s launch vehicle, it was also half as expensive (around PS307,000 or 50 million yen).

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The rocket, measuring 60 metres in length, carried an Advanced Land Observation Satellite. This satellite observes Earth and collects data to aid in disaster response and mapmaking.

It also contained an infrared sensor that was developed by Japan’s Defence Ministry. This sensor can be used to monitor military activity including missile launches.

This is a major setback for Japan’s satellite programme, as it faces growing competition from other businesses like Elon Musk‘s SpaceX French company Arianespace.


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