The H-2A rocket topped with the Michibiki 3 navigation satellite awaits liftoff from a launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. Credit: JAXA
A Japanese launch crew filled an H-2A rocket with cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants in time for a planned liftoff Saturday with a geostationary navigation satellite, but a problem inside the launcher’s propulsion system prompted officials to postpone the mission.
Officials announced a hold less than two hours before the 174-foot-tall (53-meter) H-2A rocket was set to blast off at 0440 GMT (12:40 a.m. EDT; 1:40 p.m. Japan Standard Time). The H-2A launch team called off the launch attempt several hours later, after the opening of an unusually-long launch window stretching nearly nine hours long.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the launch was scrubbed to ensure the readiness of the H-2A rocket’s propulsion systems. Officials said in a press conference Saturday that engineers were studying possible leak in the rocket’s helium pressurization system.
The H-2A rocket was still on its launch pad as the sun rose Sunday at the Tanegashima Space Center, a spaceport overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the coast of southern Japan.
Fitted with four solid-fueled boosters and a ...