Sat, 13 April 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

Japan's first private rocket explodes after launch

Update : 13 Mar 2024, 17:19

Japanese company Space One's first attempt to make the country a contender in satellite launches ended in fire, smoke and debris after the Kairos rocket exploded shortly after its launch on Wednesday.

Tokyo-based Space One's Kairos was Japan's first private-sector rocket to be launched.

The 18-meter (59-foot) solid-fuel rocket blasted off from the company's own launch pad in the Wakayama region of western Japan at 11:01 a.m. (0201 GMT).

Local media livestreams showed the rocket exploding midair within seconds of its launch. Hundreds of spectators had also gathered nearby to watch the launch.

According to Shuhei Kishimoto, the governor of the local government, there were no injuries near the launch pad, and the fire has been extinguished.

Company investigating cause


The rocket was carrying a government satellite intended to temporarily replace intelligence satellites if needed.

Space One said in a statement that following the launch of the first Kairos rocket, they took "a measure to abort the flight." The company further added that "details are being investigated."

Katsumasa Tashima, the mayor of Kushimoto, a town in Wakayama, said he was disappointed but added that the town would support Space One and "continue to offer our help so that the first rocket will have a successful launch."

Earlier, the company had to delay the inaugural launch window of Kairos — derived from an ancient Greek word meaning "the right moment" — four times, most recently on Saturday.

Japan's aerospace industry scrambling to capture share of market
The launch's failure is a setback for Space One, founded in 2018 by a Japanese consortium including Canon Electronics, IHI Aerospace, construction firm Shimizu and the government-owned Development Bank of Japan.

Despite the explosion, Space One plans to continue its mission to provide "space courier services," with an aim to launch 20 rockets a year by the late 2020s, its president Masakazu Toyoda said.

Last month, Japan's space agency JAXA successfully launched its new cost-efficient flagship rocket, the H3. This launch was also plagued with delays and two failed attempts.

Although relatively small, Japan's aerospace industry is working hard to develop less expensive rockets, aiming to meet the growing demand for satellite launches from both the government and international customers.

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