Immediately Prior To Takeoff, Japan Aborts The Launch Of Its H3 Flagship Rocket- Moments before the H3 vehicle was set to lift off on Friday, Japan aborted the launch of its first brand-new medium-lift rocket in three decades because the secondary booster engines strapped to its side failed to ignite.
After the launch countdown reached zero during the live broadcast, the H3’s main engine shut off, leaving the 57-meter (187-foot) rocket and its payload, the ALOS-3 land observation satellite, on the ground at the Tanegashima spaceport. The ALOS-3 satellite also has an infrared sensor that can detect North Korean ballistic missiles.
Masashi Okada, the H3 project manager of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), wiped away tears and apologized, saying, “A lot of people have been following our development, and we are truly sorry.” It truly irks me, he continued.
Okada declared that JAXA would try again before the end of March.
Japan developed the H3 to improve its independence in accessing space and to increase its prospects of stealing market share from rivals like Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It is intended to deliver supplies to the International Space Station and launch government and private spacecraft into orbit.
Later versions will also transport cargo to the Gateway lunar space station, which NASA aims to build as part of its ambition to send astronauts back to the moon, as part of Tokyo’s expanding cooperation with the United States in space.
Japan has been guaranteed a spot on one of America’s crewed lunar missions.
The H3’s creator and launch manager, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T), expects the rocket will advance its aspirations for space as SpaceX revolutionizes commercial launches with its reusable rockets, such as the Falcon 9.
The cost of a Falcon 9 launch to low earth orbit was estimated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies to be $2,600 per kilogram in a research published in September. The H-II, the H3’s predecessor, has a comparable price tag of $10,500.
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Before the scheduled launch, a Mitsubishi Heavy official stated, “With the H3, we are aiming to reduce the cost of each launch.”
A successful first mission would have launched the Japanese rocket into orbit before the European Space Agency’s new, less expensive Ariane vehicle, which is scheduled to fly this year.
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