Tags: epsilon | rocket | aborts | launch | japan

Epsilon Rocket Aborts Launch in Japan Seconds Before Liftoff

Image: Epsilon Rocket Aborts Launch in Japan Seconds Before Liftoff

Tuesday, 27 Aug 2013 12:09 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Japan's Epsilon rocket, the next-generation Epsilon booster, was forced to abort its launch seconds before liftoff Tuesday after the rocket hit a snag.

The rocket was scheduled to launch Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. Japan Standard Time at the launch site, Space.com noted.

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What caused the last minute glitch responsible for the cancellation – just 19 seconds before it was to lift off – was not disclosed to the media by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

JAXA officials announced the cancellation on Twitter. 

"Today's launch was cancelled. More details will be reported as further information becomes available," the agency wrote.

JAXA later shared more information.

"Because an automatic stop alarm was issued as an attitude abnormality was detected approximately 19 seconds prior to the liftoff time during the automatic countdown sequence," officials tweeted.

Standing 78 feet tall with a weight of 91 tons, JAXA's Epsilon rocket was built to launch satellites into the Earth's orbit. The satellites weigh as much as 2,646 pounds, Space.com reported.

In its first mission, JAXA's Epsilon rocket was to carry Japan's Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A).

The orbital observatory satellite is designed to be the "world's first space telescope for remote observation of the planets such as Venus, Mars, and Jupiter from the orbit around the Earth," JAXA officials said in a statement describing the rocket, according to Space.com.

This is the launch's second delay this past week.

The first cancellation occurred on Aug. 22, when concerns over the rocket's ground support equipment forced JAXA engineers to quit the launch.

According to JAXA officials, the Epsilon rocket will lower the operational costs of missions over the long run, thereby giving way to more frequent rocket launches in the future.

"Through increased launch opportunities, we anticipate that space development activity will increase," JAXA officials say in an Epsilon rocket description, Space.com reported. "The biggest goal of the Epsilon Launch Vehicle is to make space more accessible as rocket launches are made easier."

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