The launch of Japan’s new generation small launch vehicle Epsilon suffered two embarrassing delays in August. On 22 August the solid rocket suffered a delay due to incorrect line routing in the signal relay equipment for checking the launch vehicle functions. After this was fixed, the Epsilon’s launch attempt on 27 August from the Tanegashima launch site in was called off with only 19 seconds to spare ahead of the 0445 GMT launch time due to an automatic stop alarm that was issued at the Ground Control Centre. An attitude abnormality was detected during the automatic countdown sequence.
The cause of this was later disclosed by JAXA be be a 0.07 time lag between the rocket’s own computer and the ground based launch sequence control computer system. The three stage Epsilon launch vehicle has an autonomous checking system aboard. It was designed as a lower cost successor to the M-V launch vehicle which was used to launch smaller scientific payloads not suitable for launches on the larger H-2 series of launch vehicles. The next flight attempt of Epsilon, on which it is planned to launch the Sprint A astronomical ultra-violet telescope spacecraft, is now expected in September.