Latest News

Japan’s Inaugural H3 Rocket Launch Fails 

By Rachel Jewett | March 7, 2023

A screenshot of Japan’s inaugural H3 mission on March 7, 2023. The mission was terminated. Screenshot via JAXA/YouTube

The first launch of Japan’s new H3 rocket failed on Tuesday. Japan’s space agency JAXA said in a news dispatch that the mission was terminated via a destruct command. 

The H3 rocket successfully lifted off from the launch site on Tanegashima at 10:37 a.m. Japan Standard Time on March 7. But seven minutes into the mission, launch commentators observed the rocket’s velocity was declining and they could not confirm the second stage had ignited. 

“A destruct command has been transmitted to H3 around 10:52 a.m. Japan Standard Time, because there was no possibility of achieving the mission. We are confirming the situation,” JAXA said in an update. The agency has not shared any other details. 

The mission was carrying the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3 “DAICHI-3” (ALOS-3) satellite, an Earth observation satellite that would have provided imaging for disaster response and monitoring the coastal/vegetation environment.

The H3 rocket was developed by JAXA and its prime contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), as the successor to the H-IIA and H-IIB rockets. The rocket’s inaugural launch was long delayed, and originally scheduled for 2020

There have been a number of recent high-profile launch failures — Arianespace’s second launch of its new Vega C rocket failed in December, and Virgin Orbit’s first mission from the United Kingdom in January failed as well.