Japan Set for Inaugural Launch of New Epsilon Rocket – Update 2

Japan Set for Inaugural Launch of New Epsilon Rocket – Update 2

UPDATE 2, 7:30 am August 27 EDT:  JAXA issued a press release saying that the launch was aborted when “an automatic stop alarm was issued as an attitude abnormality was detected approximately 19 seconds prior to liftoff…”     A new launch date/time was not announced.

UPDATE, 1:00 am August 27 EDT:  The launch counted down, but there was no liftoff.  An English subtitle on the JAXA live launch site said that “countdown operations was halted” and more details would be reported as information becomes available.

ORIGINAL STORY, August 26, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT):  The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is planning the first launch of its new Epsilon rocket in a few hours from its Uchinoura launch site.

Epsilon is a successor to the M-V rocket developed by Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS).  ISAS became part of JAXA in 2003.   Though it can launch less mass into low Earth orbit, Epsilon was designed to be less costly than the M-V.   It relies more on autonomous systems, for example, for pre-launch checkout.  JAXA says that “[u]ltimately, through the internet, we will be able to check and control rockets anywhere in the world by using a laptop computer.”

The first launch of the three-stage solid rocket booster is scheduled for 12:45-1:30 am August 27 Eastern Daylight Time (1:45 – 2:30 pm August 27 local time in Japan).   It will place the 350 kilogram Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) satellite into a 950 x 1150 kilometer Earth orbit.  SPRINT-A is designed to study planetary magnetospheres, particularly that of Jupiter, which has an inherent magnetic field 10,000 times stronger than Earth’s.  A secondary mission is studying the atmospheres of Venus and Mars from Earth orbit.

The launch will be broadcast live beginning at 12:25 am EDT (1:25 pm local time in Japan).

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