Japan's new rocket blasts off in laptop-controlled launch

Sep 14, 2013
Guests watch a live transmission of the launch of Japan's new solid-fuel rocket on a screen at the Uchinoura Space Centre in Kagoshima, Japan on September 14, 2013.

Japan's new solid-fuel rocket successfully blasted off Saturday carrying a telescope for remote observation of planets in a launch coordinated from a laptop computer-based command centre.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Epsilon rocket from the Uchinoura Space Centre in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan, at 2:00 pm (0500 GMT).

Spectators cheered in Kagoshima as well as at a public viewing site in Tokyo.

More than 900 people who gathered at the Tokyo event clapped and took photos with cellphones as a huge screen showed the rocket lift off in a cloud of white smoke and orange flame.

The three-stage Epsilon—24 metres (79-feet) long and weighing 91 tonnes—released the "SPRINT-A" telescope at an altitude of about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) as scheduled, JAXA said.

SPRINT-A is the world's first space telescope for remote observation of planets including Venus, Mars and Jupiter from its orbit around Earth, according to the agency.

Lift-off had originally been scheduled for August 27 but the first attempt was suspended with just seconds to go after a ground control computer falsely detected a positional abnormality.

Japan hopes the rocket, launched with just two laptop computers in a pared-down command centre, will become competitive in the global space business.

Japan's new solid-fuel rocket launches at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima prefecture, Japan on September 14, 2013.

The Epsilon is about half the size of the nation's liquid-fuelled H2-A rocket, and a successor to the M-5 rocket that was retired in 2006 due to its high cost.

The small-sized rocket is equipped with "for the first time in the world" that allows autonomous launch checks by the rocket itself, JAXA has said.

At the control centre only eight workers were engaged in the launch operation, compared with some 150 people usually needed when Japan launches its mainstream H2-A rocket.

The agency has halved the production and costs to 3.8 billion yen ($37 million) compared with the previous M-5 rocket.

Explore further: Student to live in simulated space habitat

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan sets new date for satellite rocket launch

Sep 09, 2013

Japan's state-run space agency Monday said the launch of its next-generation solid-fuel rocket had been rescheduled for September 14 after the first attempt was suspended seconds before lift-off.

Japan to launch space cargo mission Saturday

Jan 21, 2011

Japan's space agency said it would launch a rocket on Saturday to deliver more than five tons of supplies to the International Space Station, after an earlier postponement. ...

Recommended for you

Student to live in simulated space habitat

3 hours ago

A Purdue University industrial engineering doctoral student is among six "crew members" spending the next eight months in a domed habitat on a volcanic landscape mimicking life on a Martian outpost.

The wake-up call that sent hearts racing

6 hours ago

"But as the minutes ticked by, the relaxed attitude of many of us began to dissolve into apprehension. Our levels of adrenaline and worry began to rise."

US-India to collaborate on Mars exploration

15 hours ago

The United States and India, fresh from sending their own respective spacecraft into Mars' orbit earlier this month, on Tuesday agreed to cooperate on future exploration of the Red Planet.

Swift mission observes mega flares from a mini star

15 hours ago

On April 23, NASA's Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series ...

Sandblasting winds shift Mars' landscape

20 hours ago

High winds are a near-daily force on the surface of Mars, carving out a landscape of shifting dunes and posing a challenge to exploration, scientists said Tuesday.

PanSTARRS K1, the comet that keeps going

23 hours ago

Thank you K1 PanSTARRS for hanging in there! Some comets crumble and fade away. Others linger a few months and move on. But after looping across the night sky for more than a year, this one is nowhere near ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1.5 / 5 (15) Sep 14, 2013
Luckily they were not using Microsoft.

"Engines firing - Urrkkkkkkk Blue Screen of Death - reboot"

Reboot (3 minute later).

The boot hangs with a message, "sys-config.exe appears to have become corrupted. To avoid data corruption, booting has been halted. Please contact your system administrator."

Yesssssss! Microsoft.
3.5 / 5 (4) Sep 14, 2013
Japan hopes the rocket, launched with just two laptop computers in a pared-down command centre, will become competitive in the global space business.

Probably South Korea will launch one with a smartphone app soon.

But seriously: That's pretty cool if the command and control center needs can be reduced that much. Should be a bit of a wake-up call for the guys at Kourou.
3 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2013
Well, Humpty, you beat me to it. I was going to say, "It's a good thing they weren't running Windows 8; they would not have been able to find the Start button. The rocket would still be on the pad, awaiting the 8.1 update..."
1 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2013
Geart work, Amazing.
www . atechplanet.com/3-wheel-scooter-150cc-scooter
1.4 / 5 (10) Sep 15, 2013
37 mil. NASA spends twice that every time stand up. We have got to either get the private sector more involved or get the politicians and bureaucrats a lot less involved in our space program.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2013
Excellent work and great progress, just a shame it could lead to a lot of redundancies!
that progress though!
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2013
just a shame it could lead to a lot of redundancies!

See it this way: It's competition. At first you have a lot of suppliers and after a while some of them will go out of business.

At the very least it will force the established ones to up their game (either in terms of service or cost).