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: Japan sets new date for satellite rocket launch

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

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

2 hours ago

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

A full-spectrum Mars simulation in a box

3 hours ago

There are many reasons why Mars excels at destroying expensive equipment. For one thing, its entire surface is made of partially-magnetized dust. For another, Mars possesses just enough atmosphere so that ...

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...

Proposed Mars 'Icebreaker' mission detailed

3 hours ago

Scientists supported by the Astrobiology Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) and Astrobiology Instrument Development Programs (ASTID) have outlined the proposed 'Icebreaker' mission to Mars in a recent ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Humpty
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.
antialias_physorg
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.
Neurons_At_Work
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..."
Mickle4243
1 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2013
Geart work, Amazing.
www . atechplanet.com/3-wheel-scooter-150cc-scooter
dav_daddy
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.
ScottyB
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!
antialias_physorg
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).

More news stories

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...