Japan’s space agency has aborted the launch of its first new rocket in more than 20 years after some systems failed.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) halted the launch of its flagship H3 rocket shortly before liftoff because a pair of its auxiliary rockets failed to ignite.
Live TV showed smoke had begun to belched from the main engine when the launch stopped at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on Friday.
“Many people have been waiting and looking forward to this day,” said JAXA mission chief Masashi Okada, who felt “very sorry and frustrated with himself.”
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“We will investigate the cause as soon as possible and do our best to try again,” he added.
Mr Okada said the rocket’s main engine ignited successfully, but because of an unidentified problem, most likely an electrical signal, the electrical signal that would later ignite its auxiliary booster rocket was not sent.
He hopes the issue can be resolved so another launch can be attempted before the current window closes on March 10.
H3, the first of a new series of satellites launched by Japan in more than 22 years, carries an observation satellite with experimental sensors to monitor and detect missile launches.
The satellite will also be used to collate data to create maps and plan disaster response.
The aborted launch marks the second setback for Japan’s space program in as many months – in October, JAXA’s Epsilon series of rockets also failed to take off.
Friday’s launch had been postponed from earlier in the week due to bad weather, while delays in engine development for the new £1.2bn plane meant it was pushed back from its planned launch in 2020.