National › Japan’s new rocket blasts off in laptop-controlled launch - ( J44P44NN )

Saturday, September 14, 2013


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

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Epsilon rocket from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan, at 2 p.m., live footage showed.

Lift-off had originally been scheduled for Aug 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 center, will become competitive in the global space business.

The three-stage Epsilon—24 meters long and weighing 91 tons—was scheduled to release the SPRINT-A telescope at an altitude of 1,000 kilometers.

JAXA is expected to comment whether the launch was a success after confirming the release of the telescope.

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 JAXA.

(C) 2013 AFP