Japan's First Desktop-Controlled Rocket Lifts Off
By Julie S | Sep 16, 2013 09:44 AM EDT
After experiencing two setbacks the previous month, Japan's first desktop-controlled rocket finally lifts off on Saturday, Reuters reports.
The event had eventually made the country hopeful that it will be able to enter the thriving, multi-billion dollar industry of satellite launching. The rocket was the country's first in 12 years.
Lifted off at 1 a.m EDT, the rocket carried with it a telescope will be used to observe the solar system from space.
Dubbed as ‘Epsilon,’ the three-stage rocket is around half the size of the H2A which is Japan’s existing rocket. Epsilon is currently billed as a new and low-cost alternative rocket.
Previously unveiled on Aug. 27, the rocket had to be stopped 19 seconds before the countdown as a result of a computer glitch. Now that it has successfully launched, Japan moves one step closer to reaching its goal of profiting from the international satellite launch industry.
The rocket’s reduced sized coupled with a computer system that enables it to perform system checks by itself only shows that its assembly can be accomplished quickly, benefitting operators that are faced with providing cost-saving methods on personnel and equipment.
Launch manipulation can be executed by using standard desktop PCs. This will reduce costs and will increase the mobility of launches since they can be carried out at more launch sites.
For 30 years, the commercial launch business has been under the monopoly of U.S companies. However, their hold in the monopoly has been in a steady decline as most of the business now goes to Arianespace, a public-private European partnership based in France which had reportedly gained 1.3 billion euros as revenue in 2012.
Recently, the industry has been shaken up by the entry of SpaceX, the Space Exploration Technologies that is based in California.
Russia is also into the rocket launching market with its workhorse spaceships known as Soyuz, the only vehicles that bring crews to the ISS ever since the retirement from service of the US Space Shuttle has been realized in 2011.