Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on Wednesday that its unmanned Epsilon-6 rocket had been ordered to self-destruct after an "abnormality" occurred shortly after liftoff.
JAXA officials said the self-destruction signal was sent after it was decided that the rocket, which was carrying eight satellites, was unable to fly safely to its planned orbit. They said the rocket is thought to have fallen into the sea.
The cause of the failure was still being investigated, the agency said.
The launch from the Uchinoura Space Center in the southern Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima had originally been scheduled for last Friday but was delayed due to the location of a positioning satellite in space.
It was JAXA's first failed launch since a H2A rocket carrying two satellites meant to monitor North Korea had its flight aborted in 2003.
Among the eight satellites carried by the Epsilon rocket were two commercially developed ones. It was the first time an Epsilon had carried satellites from a private company, with JAXA aiming to set up commercial satellite launch business.
The solid-fuel Epsilon rocket has been in use since 2013.