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Japan Space Agency Says Test Flight for New Flagship Rocket Is Rescheduled for Saturday

Japan’s space agency says its new flagship H3 rocket will have a second test flight on Saturday, two days later than an initially planned liftoff that was postponed due to a bad weather forecast at the launch site in southwestern Japan.

The liftoff was originally scheduled for Thursday but was postponed due to thunder and strong wind forecasted at the Tanegashima Space Center.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said Wednesday that its H3 rocket will attempt a test flight on Saturday with an alternative launch window through the end of March.

JAXA has been developing H3 for more than a decade as a successor to its current mainstay, H-2A, which has just two more flights planned before its retirement.

The upcoming launch is being closely watched as a test for Japan’s space development after H3 failed in its debut flight last March, when the rocket had to be destroyed along with its payload, the advanced land observation satellite, or ALOS-3. This time, the rocket will carry a mockup of the ALOS satellite, called VEP-4.

JAXA says the mission’s primary goal for the second test flight is to put the rocket into the intended trajectory. The agency also wants to place two observation microsatellites into orbit.

H3 is designed to carry larger payloads than H-2A at much lower costs to be globally competitive.

Expectations are high following a recent steak of successes. JAXA made a historic precision moon landing last month of its spacecraft that had been launched from the H-2A rocket, days after the 48th H-2A rocket successfully placed a spy satellite into its planned orbit.

Source: The Associated Press

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