Japan’s newest rocket fails to lift off

TOKYO: Japan’s first new rocket in 12 years failed to lift off on Tuesday, dealing an apparent blow to hopes that Japan might be able to muscle in on the growing, multi-billion dollar satellite launch industry.

The countdown for the launch of the Epsilon rocket at Japan’s Uchinoura launch centre, broadcast over the Internet, went down to zero, but nothing happened. JAXA, Japan’s space agency, later said countdown operations were halted.

A three-stage rocket, the Epsilon – named for the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet – is 24.4 metres (80 feet) high, about half the size of Japan’s workhorse H2A rocket. It weighs 91 tonnes and has been touted as a new, low-cost alternative.