Japan’s Rocket explodes on take-off

It’s not been a good year for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Japan became the fifth country in history to reach the moon when one of its spacecrafts without astronauts successfully made a soft landing on the lunar surface in January, but its spacecraft ended up in an awkward position, with its engine nozzle pointed up toward space.

This image provided by Jaxa shows Japan’s Slim moon lander lying at a slightly awkward angle after its ‘pinpoint’ landing.

By design, the Japanese spacecraft, known as Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, was supposed to land on its side, a strategy to avoid tipping over on the sloped terrain of the landing site.

But about 150 feet above the ground, one of SLIM’s two main engines appear to have failed. While the spacecraft made a historic “pinpoint” landing on the surface of the moon at the weekend, the country’s space agency there was a slight snag: the images sent back suggested the probe was lying upside-down.


Then earlier today a rocket exploded on take-off. Fortunately there were no astronauts on this flight. This first attempt with a private Kairos rocket was intended to test viability of homegrown commercial launch business. Last July another Japanese rocket, the solid-fuel Epsilon S, exploded during a test about 50 seconds after ignition.