Image: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

A set—back for Japan as its H3 space rocked failed on its first flight test on March 6.

Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s H3 rocket lifted off from Tanegashima Space Center and five minutes and 27 seconds after lift-off, a command was sent to the rocket for stage separation and second stage ignition.

After seven minutes into the flight, launch commentators said that the rocket’s velocity was ‘falling’ and that second stage ignition could not be confirmed.

Mission controllers then issued a destruct command to the rocket, bringing its first test flight to an early end.
Jaxa’s livestream commented: “A destruct command has been transmitted to the launch vehicle, because there was no possibility of achieving the mission.”

Second try

This was the H3’s second try at a debut launch after it aborted its first attempt on February 16.

Japan’s Science Minister Keiko Nagaoka said authorities would investigate the cause of the engine failure and added the fail was “extremely regrettable”.

JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa added: “Our top priority is to do everything we can to find the cause and regain the trust in our rockets. We need to figure out what we should do to successfully achieve the next launch.”

It’s a blow for Japan after the H3 rocket was the country’s first new series in more than 22 years. It was developed at a cost $1.47 billion by JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as a successor to Japan’s H-2A rocket.

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