The H-2B rocket during fueling before Tuesday’s launch pad fire. Credit: MHI
Japanese officials called off the launch of an H-2B rocket and HTV space station cargo ship Tuesday after a fire broke out on the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center.
The fire occurred at around 1805 GMT (2:05 p.m. EDT) Tuesday, or 3:05 a.m. local time Wednesday, around three-and-a-half hours before the H-2B launcher was scheduled to lift off with an automated supply ship bound for the International Space Station.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation when officials briefed reporters on the fire four hours after cameras first observed the blaze near the base of the 186-foot-tall (56.6-meter) rocket. The launch pad was evacuated at the time of the fire, and the rocket’s manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, reported no injuries.
A live video feed of the launch pad showed a flash near the base of the H-2B rocket, followed by a cloud smoke. Water jets began spraying the launcher and its mobile platform around 15 minutes later.
Around 90 minutes later, a loudspeaker announcement at Tanegashima said the H-2B launch was postponed because of a “fire around a hole in the deck of the ...