According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA, Japan has launched the first Epsilon Launch Vehicle (Epsilon-1) with the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) onboard at 2:00 p.m. on September 14 (Sat.), 2013 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Uchinoura Space Center.
The rocket, costing $37 million, about one-half as much as its predecessor. The rocket, 24 meters in height and 90 tons in weight, placed the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere into its orbit about an hour after the launch. The telescope will be used to observe planets including Venus, Mars and Jupiter from its Earth orbit.
An earlier attempt on Aug. 27 to launch the rocket was aborted seconds before liftoff as the computer controlling the launch detected a glitch in the rocket’s posture.
The launch is expected to move Japan closer to becoming a major power in the international rocket-launching business.