Japanese Space One’s maiden rocket explodes after lift-off

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The inaugural rocket launch of Japanese company Space One failed on Wednesday as the Kairos rocket exploded seconds after lifting off, marking the first attempt from the country’s private sector to put a satellite into orbit. Shortly after 11:00 a.m. local time (7:30?am IST) at the launch site in Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan, smoke and fire were seen following the take-off of the 18-metre, four-stage solid-fuel rocket, multiple local media live streams showed, Xinhua news agency reported.

In a statement, Space One said the flight was intentionally terminated, Nikkei Asia reported. “A mid-flight termination procedure was carried out. We are looking into the situation,” the statement read. The Kairos rocket carried a small government intelligence satellite that weighed 100 kilograms. The company founded in 2018 aims to do “space courier services” with 20 annual launches by 2030.

With a series of space launches, Japan is catching up in the space race, along with India, the US, Russia, and China. In February, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched its flagship rocket the H3. The cost-efficient rocket aims to make nearly 20 satellites and probes launches by 2030. The agency also effortlessly aced the first-ever “pinpoint” moon landing this year.

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