On the 12th, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched a small rocket “Epsilon” No. 6 from the Uchinoura Space Observatory (Komotsuki-cho, Kagoshima Prefecture) in the morning of the same day, but issued an order to destroy it. It seems that some kind of trouble has occurred. This is the first time Epsilon has failed to launch since the first launch in 2013.

Epsilon-6 was launched at 9:50 a.m. on the same day, carrying experimental satellites of companies and universities, as well as two satellites from QPS Research Institute (Fukuoka City), the first Epsilon commercial satellite. JAXA is rushing to gather information as it is believed that some kind of trouble occurred after the launch.

This is the first failed launch of a JAXA-led rocket since 2003, when the domestically produced H2A 6. After that, he succeeded more than 50 times in a row. Japanese rockets are known for their high success rate compared to other countries. Amid growing global demand for launching small satellites, a failure could cast a shadow over medium- to long-term orders.

The government positions the Epsilon as Japan’s main “keyboard rocket” along with the large rockets “H2A” and “H2B.” It is a rocket that uses solid fuel instead of liquid fuel, and is of high security importance.

There are many companies entering the small satellite launch service, which is the target of Epsilon, and international competition is intensifying. The government was aiming to win orders for launches from emerging countries that do not have rockets, but the future became uncertain. Epsilon is scheduled to be transferred to IHI Aerospace (Tokyo, Koto) in the future, but there are concerns about the impact.

In Japan, Space One (Minato, Tokyo) and Interstella Technologies (Taiki-cho, Hokkaido), in which Canon Electronics and others have invested, are also planning small rockets for launching satellites. In 2021, Honda also announced its entry into small rockets. The failure to launch a flagship rocket, which will serve as a “signboard” for the country’s space development, could also have a negative impact on future corporate activities.

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