Japan’s new H3 rocket just self-destructed mid-flight

The maiden launch of Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) new H3 rocket has come to an explosive end following orders from JAXA to self-destruct the rocket mid-flight. According to reports from BBC, the rocket experienced a complete failure after launching, causing the agency to order its destruction.

Japan says the self-destruct orders for the H3 rocket were a regrettable development, especially with Japan hoping to move the rocket in as a cheaper alternative to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. Unfortunately, this first test for the rocket was unsuccessful, and the ALOS-3 system onboard the rocket was lost in the destruction.

The ALOS-3 system is a revolutionary satellite system that Japan claims will allow militaries to detect North Korean missile launches. As such, its failure is a huge hit to the launch of the satellite system.

Despite the orders to self-destruct the H3 rocket, Japan hasn’t given up hope. Japan’s Science Minister, Keiko Nagaoka, says that authorities are investigating the cause of the engine failure and hope to have a better picture of what caused the issue sometime soon.

If the mission had proven successful, Jaxa aimed to launch the H3 roughly six times a year for the next two decades. The H3 rocket offers a cheaper alternative to the Falcon 9 because it utilizes a lower-cost engine and is made up of 3D-printed parts, thus cutting the cost massively. With the first flight ending in the self-destruction of the H3 rocket, though, it will need to be rebuilt.

Japan still plans to deepen its cooperation with the United States regarding space, and has already committed to carrying cargo that will help build the Gateway lunar space station in the future. Jaxa has yet to share any information on when it might attempt another launch following the destruction of the H3 rocket in mid-flight.

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