Japan launched its new intelligent Epsilon rocket into space on September 14. The rocket is carrying a satellite, called SPRINT-A, that is designed to observe planets such as Venus, Mars and Jupiter in order to check how fast their atmospheres bleed into outer space.
The three-stage Epsilon rocket launched into orbit at 2 p.m. Japan Standard Time from the Uchinoura Space Center in southern Japan, the international press reports. The launch was delayed for three weeks due to a ground control computer that falsely detected a positional abnormality.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tried at first to launch the rocket on August 27, but the technical glitch forced the team of scientists to abort the test flight 19 seconds before liftoff.
“The satellite is currently in good health,” JAXA officials said in a statement. The satellite separated from the Epsilon rocket about 61 minutes after liftoff.
The SPRINT-A satellite will observe the atmospheres of Jupiter, Venus and Mars in ultraviolet light. The satellite weighs 350 kilograms and will spend one year on its mission.
The three-stage Epsilon is 24 metres long and weighs 91 tonnes.
JAXA officials have estimated Epsilon’s first flight to cost around Y3.8 billion ($38.5 million).
“We would like to express our profound appreciation for the cooperation and support of all related personnel and organizations that helped contribute to the launch of the Epsilon-1,” JAXA officials said.