JAXA Sets Date for Second Epsilon Launch Attempt

JAXA Sets Date for Second Epsilon Launch Attempt

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) may try again on Saturday to launch its new Epsilon rocket.  The first attempt was aborted 19 seconds before liftoff on August 27.

Epsilon is Japan’s successor to the M-V rocket developed by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), one of three entities that merged in 2003 to form JAXA.  The new rocket can launch less mass to orbit, but is lower cost and relies more on autonomous systems.  The payload for this mission is the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) to study planetary magnetospheres, especially Jupiter’s. 

No specific launch time was announced and the exact wording is that “the new launch date will be September 14, 2013 (Japan Standard Time) or later,” so it is not 100 percent certain that it will go on Saturday either.  The launch will be from the Uchinoura launch site.

The August 27 abort was caused by a computer programming error.   Space News reported that JAXA officials determined that a “0.07 second time lag between the rocket’s on-board computer and the ground-based launch control system” was responsible.  The rocket’s computer sent data to the ground computer about the rocket’s attitude control system, but the time stamp on the data did not match that on the ground computer, creating an anomalous situation that resulted in the abort.


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