Weather forces JAXA to scrub launch of H-IIA rocket carrying X-ray astronomy satellite


The launch of a rocket carrying a new X-ray astronomy satellite has been postponed from the initially planned time Friday due to bad weather, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said Thursday.

A new liftoff date has not been set, said Mitsubishi Heavy, the builder and operator of the rocket. The launch had been planned for 5:45 p.m. Friday at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The plan is for the 30th H-IIA rocket to put into orbit the Astro-H satellite, a space observatory equipped with four X-ray telescopes and two gamma-ray detectors.

Scientists hope to observe distant black holes and galaxies with it to study the mysteries surrounding the evolution of the universe.

The satellite was developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and other organizations, such as the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, with the participation of more than 200 researchers at home and abroad.

The cylindrical fuselage measures 14 meters long and weighs 2.7 tons, the heaviest among the scientific satellites Japan has worked on.

It will be a successor to JAXA’s other X-ray astronomy satellite named Suzaku, which ceased its operations last year. Compared with its predecessor, Astro-H boasts 10 to 100 times more sensitivity, according to the space agency.