Japan space agency rocket engine explodes during test

TOKYO (Reuters) – A rocket engine exploded during a test in Japan on Friday but there were no injuries, an official at Japan’s Education, Science and Technology Ministry said.

The explosion of the Epsilon S engine at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) testing site is the latest in a series of failures that have deflated Japan’s space ambitions.

The explosion took place about a minute into the test of the second stage engine, the official said.

Television footage showed flames shooting out the side of a testing facility before the small building was engulfed in flames and the roof blew off.

JAXA’s new medium-lift H-3 rocket was ordered to self-destruct on its debut flight in March, when its second-stage engine did not ignite as planned. That followed the failure of the agency’s solid-fuel Epsilon-6 rocket in October.

Lunar transport startup ispace (9348.T) saw its Hakuto-R vehicle crash into the moon’s surface in April in an attempt at the first ever soft-landing by a private company.

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