A mini-rocket built to launch a satellite has been destroyed after a failure shortly after the launch.
The Japanese have attempted and failed to launch one of the smallest ever rockets into space, as the 9.5-meter rocket crashed into the sea shortly after lift off at around 8:30 a.m. local time from the Uchinoura Space Center in southwestern Japan on Sunday, according to various reports.
The rocket had a payload of a micro satellite just 13 inches tall and weighing 6.6 pounds. The rocket appeared to have malfunctioned after launch, causing the ignition of the second booster to terminate and sending the rocket plummeting into the sea southeast of Uchinoura.
The launch had previously been delayed earlier this week due to weather issues. It would have been a proof of concept for micro satellite and mini rocket technology, according to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). JAXA is hoping to commercialize these efforts so private companies will figure out cheaper ways to get satellites into orbit.
Here is what JAXA says on its website about Uchinoura.
The Uchinoura Space Center (USC) launches sounding rockets and scientific satellites and also manages tracking and data.
The USC was practically built by efficiently arranging facilities on a plateau artificially prepared by reducing the hillside as the center lies on hilly land. In that sense, it is very unique, unlike any other space center in the world.
The main tasks of JAXA employees there is to administer the center, engage in clerical work and maintain facilities, but another important mission for them is to guide visitors with thorough explanations to deepen their understanding of space.
When receiving radio frequencies from satellites, or launching sounding rockets and scientific satellites, the necessary personnel and engineers are dispatched from the ISAS Sagamihara Campus and private companies. Under such an advanced organizational system, we have launched over 400 small and large launch vehicles and about 30 satellites and explorers including Japan’s first satellite, the “OHSUMI”, since the center’s establishment in 1962 to significantly contribute to space science research.