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Japan's H3 rocket fails on test flight

Second stage was destroyed after misfire

H3 Takeoff from Tanegashima

The second attempt to launch Japan's H3 rocket failed minutes after takeoff on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – – as its second-stage engine failed to fire. and the country's space agency ordered the vehicle to self-destruct. Engineers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the rocket's developer, said they were unsure of the cause of the failure but were looking into the possibility that an electronic problem was involved, either in the control system or the second-stage engine itself. . The launch was carried out at 10:37, Tokyo time (JST) (20:37 EST on the 6th), from the Tanegashima space center, in Kagoshima prefecture, in the southwest of the country. The 574-tonne rocket was supposed to launch the ALOS-3 satellite, weighing about 3 tons, into orbit.

The launch on Tuesday's clear morning from Tanegashima, about 1,000 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, looked like a success during its early stages. The engineers were overjoyed with what they considered "perfect performance" from the rocket's main engine, which they had spent the last eight years developing. When the main engine was finally switched off after five minutes, they cheered, “Great job!” in the control center. But excitement gave way to disappointment when telemetry signals indicated that the second-stage engine failed to fire after first-stage separation. “My mind went blank,” said Masashi Okada, project manager at JAXA.