Epsilon Rocket Roars Off Launch Pad

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Japan's newest rocket, Epislon, lifts off from the launch pad. (JAXA webacast screen shot)

Japan’s newest rocket, Epsilon, lifts off from the launch pad. (JAXA webcast screen shot)

Japan’s newest rocket, Epsilon, roared off the launch pad in Kagoshima Prefecture at 2 p.m. JST (1 a.m. EDT) Saturday. Twelve minutes after liftoff, officials reported the burnout of the rocket’s third stage, which putting the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) satellite under the control of the Post-Boost Stage (PBS). The PBS will make two burns to optimize the spacecraft’s orbit.

The advanced, solid-fuel Epsilon rocket is highly automated and is being billed as a relatively inexpensive system for launching small payloads into orbit.