Update: 9:35 p.m. ET: The H3 rocket left the launch pad on time, but an apparent failure with the second stage engines forced controllers to issue a self-destruct command. More here.
Original article follows.
Japan’s highly anticipated H3 rocket sputtered on the launch pad during its first launch attempt, but its space agency is now ready to perform a do-over on Monday. You can catch the action live right here.
The H3 medium-lift rocket is scheduled to take off on Monday, March 6 during a brief six-minute launch window that opens at 8:37 p.m. ET (Tuesday, March 7 at 10:37 a.m. Japan Standard Time). The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will broadcast the launch through the live stream below. Coverage is set to begin at 7:40 p.m. ET.
The rocket was scheduled to blast off yesterday, but poor weather conditions pushed the launch forward by 24 hours. The space agency has secured launch windows running from March 7 through to March 9, should the launch on Monday be postponed for some reason.
Although this is considered a test flight, H3 will be attempting to deliver a payload to orbit. The rocket will be carrying the ALOS-3 advanced Earth observing satellite also known as “DAICHI-3.”
The rocket’s first attempt to reach orbit didn’t go as planned. JAXA tried to launch H3 on February 17, but the rocket never left the pad, despite partial ignition. The first-stage flight control system experienced an anomaly with no time left on the countdown clock, forcing the scrub. An ensuing investigation blamed the problem on “transient fluctuations” in the communication and power lines when the rocket and ground facilities underwent electrical separation. JAXA says it has completed the “necessary countermeasures.”
February’s launch attempt was yet another setback for the H3 rocket, which was originally supposed to fly in 2020. Tests of the engine during development exposed serious problem, resulting in a series of delays.
Related article: What to Know About the H3 Rocket, Japan’s Ticket to the Moon
Japan is counting on the H3 rocket as a more efficient successor to its H-IIA and H-IIB rockets. JAXA partnered with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to design and build the new rocket, which the space agency will use to send public and commercial projects to space. JAXA might even use a future iteration of the rocket to send cargo to the Moon in support of NASA’s Artemis program.
The plan is for JAXA to launch H3 at least six times each year for the next 20 years. But first, the two-stage rocket needs to make it off the ground. Fingers crossed that’ll happen on Monday.
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