Japan's first private-sector rocket explodes seconds after launch

World Wednesday 13/March/2024 10:44 AM
Japan's first private-sector rocket explodes seconds after launch

Tokyo: A Japanese first privately developed rocket, 'Kairos', exploded seconds after liftoff from a spaceport in western Japan, following its launch on Wednesday, reported Kyodo News.

The incident was captured on a live stream video, showing the remains falling onto a nearby mountainous area and into the sea. It further showed fragments of the rocket lying on the ground, as fire hoses attempted to extinguish a large fire.

The Tokyo-based startup 'Space One' failed to become Japan's first private firm to put a satellite into orbit when its 18-meter-long solid-fuel Kairos rocket exploded, The Japan Times reported.

Following the explosion, local firefighters were dispatched to the scene, Kyodo News reported.

There have been no reports of casualties so far, according to the police.

Moreover, the company said "flight termination measures" had been implemented.

The launch was initially scheduled for Saturday but was delayed after the company discovered the presence of a ship in a section of the ocean it had designated as needing to be empty for safety.

According to the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center, the satellite on board the rocket was meant to be able to perform some of the functions of an existing government satellite in monitoring military facilities in North Korea.

Space One, established in 2018, seeks to commercialize space delivery services by lowering costs and offering rocket launches at high frequency, as reported by Kyodo News.

Space One was set up by Canon Electronics Inc., IHI Aerospace Co., Shimizu Corp. and the government-owned Development Bank of Japan.

It further aims to send into space 30 rockets a year by the 2030s.

The startup initially aimed to conduct its first rocket launch in 2021, but was postponed five times since, citing delays in procuring parts amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, The Japan Times reported.

In May 2019, Hokkaido-based Interstellar Technologies sent Japan's first privately developed rocket into space, but that rocket was not carrying a satellite payload.

Last month, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) succeeded in launching its next-generation H3 rocket, providing a much-needed boost to the nation's satellite-launching and space exploration ambitions after the failure of its first model nearly a year ago, reported The Japan Times.

Over the past decade, the number of successful satellite launches has surged tenfold globally, reaching a record of 2,368 in 2022, according to the Cabinet Office.