Japan postpones H2A rocket launch after H3 failure
Japan will postpone an H2A rocket launch originally scheduled for May until August or later, the nation's space agency said on Friday.
The decision was made as the rocket shares components in second-stage engines with its successor H3 rocket, which was forced to self-destruct shortly after takeoff in March.
According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the 57-meter H3 rocket blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center launch site in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, as scheduled, but was ordered to self-destruct minutes later because the second-stage engine failed to ignite.
No new launches are currently planned after a string of failures for the JAXA, said local media.
The H2A rocket, with a reputation for reliability and currently scheduled to remain in service until its 50th launch, could be affected if work to ascertain the cause of the H3 failure takes time, Kyodo News reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The launch, designed to test technology for precise landings on the Moon, is to carry the JAXA-developed SLIM lunar lander.
The JAXA stated the launch, originally set for May, would have to take place in August or later to make sure the spacecraft enters the right orbit to reach the lunar surface.
According to the agency, the malfunction of Japan's H3 rocket, which failed on its initial flight in March, was most likely caused by an excessive electrical current shutting off the power inside the rocket's second-stage engine.