A Japanese Epsilon S small rocket engine exploded during a test Friday, in the latest setback for the country's space agency.
No one was injured in the explosion at the Noshiro Testing Center in Akita Prefecture, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The incident occurred about one minute after the ground test for the second-stage engine began.
The agency is developing the Epsilon S as the successor to the current Epsilon series to enhance the country's competitiveness in the growing satellite launch market.
The first rocket in the series blasted off in 2013 and there were successful launches of five models before an Epsilon-6 was ordered to self-destruct in 2022 after it deviated from its intended trajectory.
The failure led the agency to postpone the launch of the Epsilon S from fiscal 2023 to fiscal 2024 as it uses the same fuel tank as the Epsilon-6.
Epsilon series rockets utilize solid fuel, simplifying launch preparations compared with those that use liquid propellants.
JAXA's new flagship H3 rocket was also ordered to self-destruct in March minutes after its second-stage engine failed to ignite.