Accessibility links

Breaking News

Japan Scrubs Rocket Launch

In this photo taken from video Japan's H-2B rocket lifts off from a launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in Tanegashima, southern Japan, Aug. 4, 2013.
A last-minute technical problem has forced Japan to suspend the launch of a new rocket it hopes can serve as a cheaper and quicker way to place satellites into space.

Japan's space agency says the launch was automatically halted Tuesday, with only 19 seconds left in the countdown, after the rocket detected a positioning problem.

The solid-fuel Epsilon rocket is about half the size and costs one-third the price of Japan's primary rocket, the liquid-fuel H2A.

It was designed to be assembled in one week and launched using as few as one or two laptop computers at a center staffed by under 10 people.

The three-stage Epsilon was set to launch the SPRINT-A space telescope, which is designed to observe other planets.

Tokyo was hoping to use a successful launch of the Epsilon to help it better compete in the international rocket launching market.

Japanese officials are working to identify the problem related to Tuesday's failed launch. They have not set a relaunch date.