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    Failure at the Frontier: Japan’s Kairos Rocket Explodes Moments into Maiden Voyage

    Japan’s efforts showed the rocket called Kairos blasting off from Wakayama Prefecture, in central Japan, but exploding midair within seconds.

    In a setback for Japan’s efforts to join the commercial space race, a rocket hailed as the nation’s first from the private sector to reach orbit exploded shortly after liftoff.

    The Space One rocket, developed by Japanese startup Space One Co., met a fiery end mere seconds after its inaugural launch from Space Port Kii in western Japan.

    The 59-foot, four-stage solid-fuel rocket, named Kairos, was poised to mark a historic milestone by placing a satellite into orbit, a feat yet to be achieved by a Japanese private company.

    The Kairos rocket, which in ancient Greek means “the right moment,” was carrying a government satellite.

    However, hopes were dashed as the rocket burst into flames, scattering debris over nearby mountains and into the sea.

    A video from the launch event showed a huge plume of smoke engulfing the area. The video also showed spurts of water shot toward that spot to put out the blaze.

    There were no immediate reports of injuries or other damage.Originally scheduled for March 9, the launch faced delays due to the discovery of a vessel in what was supposed to be an evacuated area.

    Space One, founded in 2018 with support from investors like Canon Electronics Inc., IHI Aerospace Engineering Co., Shimizu Corp., and the Development Bank of Japan, had aimed to carve a niche in the burgeoning market for commercial space missions.

    The Kairos rocket, though smaller than those of the Japanese national space agency, JAXA, was positioned to offer competitive pricing and frequent launch opportunities, catering to a specific segment of the market.

    The failure dealt a blow not only to Space One but also to its backers, including Canon Inc., which saw a 13% drop in shares immediately following the explosion, reaching its lowest point in over a decade, reported Bloomberg.

    Japan’s main space exploration effort is led by the government’s NASDA, which stands for The National Space Development Agency of Japan, this nation’s equivalent of NASA of the U.S.

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