After the launch of the Epsilon-6 rocket fails, JAXA presses the self-destruct button.

The latest Epsilon rocket launch by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) had to be self-destructed since the rocket veered off course mid-flight.

A compact solid-fuel rocket called the Epsilon Launch Vehicle is used to launch scientific satellites. The Epsilon-6 rocket, carrying eight satellites weighing 110 kg, lifted out as The Register reports (Opens in a new window) on Wednesday from the Uchinoura Space Center (RAISE-3, QPS-SAR 3, QPS-SAR 4, MAGNARO, MITSUBA, KOSEN-2, WASEDA-SAT-ZERO, and FSI-SAT).

Unfortunately, something went awry when the second and third stages were separated. The vehicle’s flying attitude was out of target, therefore we as JAXA explains (Opens in a new window) “saw that it would not be able to enter the Earth’s orbit as planned.”

When it became evident that the rocket wouldn’t reach orbit about 10 minutes into the flight, JAXA made the decision to issue the self-destruct command. There was no risk of any debris falling over land and hurting people or damaging property because the rocket and its cargo exploded over the Pacific Ocean.

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The project’s high expectations were acknowledged by JAXA, who extended its “deepest apologies to many people and entities, particularly local organizations and those associated to the payload satellites.” In order to determine what caused the deviation during the separation, a “special task force” has been established, which will be led by JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa.

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