Japan’s first orbital launch in 2022 did not go according to plan.
A Japanese Epsilon rocket lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center at 8:50 p.m. EDT on Tuesday (Oct. 11, 0050 GMT and 9:50 a.m. Japan time on Oct. 12), in a mission known as Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration 3.
Everything went smoothly at first. The solid rocket’s first two stages were nominally performing, according to messages from commentators during the launch webcast, which was provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
But this webcast showed that the problem appeared to have occurred around the time the third stage was due to start. As a result, mission controllers activated the Epsilon’s flight termination system, which destroyed the rocket, Japanese media NHK reported (opens in new tab).
“JAXA is investigating the detailed cause of the problem,” NHK wrote Tuesday night (in Japanese, translated by Google).
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The main satellite that was supposed to reach orbit on Tuesday was RAISE 3 (“Rapid Innovative payload demonstration Satellite 3”), a 240-pound (110 kg) craft packed with seven technology test payloads.
These payloads included two experimental thrusters, one of which was designed to use water as fuel. a satellite “drag sail” a deployable energy generating membrane structure that can also serve as an antenna. telecommunications technology; a high-speed software receiver. and a commercial graphics processing unit, according to EverydayAstronaut.com (opens in new tab).
Five tiny cubesats also flew to Epsilon tonight as payloads.
Tonight’s mission was the sixth overall for the 78-foot (24 m) Epsilon and its first failure. The five successful launches took place in September 2013, December 2016, January 2018, January 2019 and November 2021.
The three most recent Epsilons launch JAXA’s Serviced Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program, which aims to boost the development of new Japanese space technology, especially equipment developed by universities and private companies.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) the Facebook (opens in new tab).