Japanese rocket engine explodes during ground test

(Tokyo) The engine of a Japanese rocket exploded Friday during a ground test in northern Japan, a new setback for Jaxa, the country’s space agency.

The engine of Epsilon S, an upgraded version of the small Epsilon-6 launcher whose mission failed shortly after liftoff last October, exploded “about 50 seconds after ignition”, according to a Japanese science ministry official. and Technology interviewed by AFP.

Footage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed a loud explosion in a metal shelter, followed by flames and thick grayish smoke billowing into the air at the test site in Akita Prefecture .

La Jaxa has not reported any injuries for the moment, said the ministry official.

The Japanese space agency is currently experiencing an embarrassing series of failures, while it was until then known for the high reliability of its rockets.

After the failure of Epsilon-6 shortly after takeoff in October 2022 due to a trajectory problem, Jaxa experienced two more successive setbacks this year with its next-generation H3 launcher.

This towering model had been unable to lift off the first time in February, and on a second attempt the following month the rocket was ordered to self-destruct shortly after liftoff due to a malfunction that made success impossible. of the mission.

Jaxa plans a first launch of Epsilon S next year, while the timetable for a new attempt at H3 is not fixed.

source site-61