10th December 2023 6:46 am
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JAXA rocket sent destruct command shortly after launch

  • The JAXA H3 rocket, which has been in development for a decade, was issued a destruct command shortly after launch.
  • The rocket was carrying the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3 when the command was issued.
  • The agency has said it will investigate the matter.

Early this morning the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched its new H3 rocket but its flight was cut short following problems that appeared after launch.

As Space.com reports, roughly five and half minutes after H3 launch, a command was issued to the rocket for stage separation and second stage ignition. The second stage ignition could ultimately not be confirmed and the rocket’s velocity began plummeting.

As a result, the agency made the decision to issue a destruct command to the H3 rocket.

“A destruct command has been transmitted to H3 around 10:52 a.m. (Japan Standard Time), because there was no possibility of achieving the mission. We are confirming the situation,” JAXA wrote in an update.

This is bad news for JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries which have been developing the rocket for a decade. A previous launch attempt was scrubbed in February and it was later found a problem with the electrical system that supplies power to the first stage engines.

Unfortunately, aboard the H3 rocket was the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3 known as DAICHI-3. This satellite was designed to capture high resolution images of Japan in strips 70 kilometres wide with a resolution of 0.8m.

Unlike SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. H3 isn’t designed to be reused, this makes it less attractive in the international launch market, but since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, those needing launch capabilities need JAXA. The agency says that H3 is geared toward “high flexibility, high reliability, and high cost performance”

However, a failed launch and now a destroyed rocket with cargo onboard won’t inspire confidence in the agency unless it’s able to turn this around swiftly and solve the problem that led to a destruct command being issued.

One client that will have a keen interest in this being resolved is the Japanese government.

“H3 is under development to be a successor to H-IIA and H-IIB so that Japan can maintain its autonomous access to space to launch satellites and probes including important missions for the government. We are eager to launch commercial satellites every year as well,” reads the JAXA website.

JAXA has said that it will investigate into the failure so we’ll wait on that for more information.

As for the debris from the destruct command, according to a report from Al Jazeera, JAXA says that the debris would have fallen into the ocean to the east of the Philippines

You can watch the full launch stream below. The actual launch can be see exactly one hour in.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Beats include cybersecurity, business, infrastructure, telecommunications, PC gaming and internet culture.

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