New Epsilon rocket launch date set


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will launch the country’s new Epsilon solid-fuel rocket on Aug. 22, carrying a satellite whose mission is to observe Venus and Mars while orbiting Earth, the science ministry said Tuesday.

The three-stage rocket — the successor to the M-5 rocket that was retired in 2006 — will blast off from the agency’s Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, it said.

The rocket, which is 24 meters high and weighs 91 tons, is capable of putting a roughly 1.2-ton satellite into a low Earth orbit.

Japan will also launch the fourth vehicle of the H-IIB rocket on Aug. 4 from the Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. It will carry the fourth unmanned cargo transfer vehicle, the Konotori No. 4, to send supplies to the International Space Station, the ministry said.