• Kyodo

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Japan launched a small, low-cost Epsilon rocket carrying nine satellites on Tuesday, the country's space agency said, in the latest attempt to promote involvement by educational institutions and companies in space development.

The Epsilon-5 rocket lifted off from Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture at around 10 a.m., the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. Initially planned for October, the launch was postponed three times due to technical and other reasons.

The rocket, which measures 2.6 meters in diameter and 26 meters in length and weighs 96 tons, carried nine satellites, the most for a mission using an Epsilon rocket.

One of the satellites aboard, developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., is a demonstration craft designed to collect space debris.

Another satellite was jointly developed by 10 national technical institutes and will showcase a new technology that allows natural radio waves emitted by Jupiter to be surveyed.

JAXA last launched an Epsilon in January 2019, sending seven satellites into space.

The Epsilon series uses solid fuel, which takes less time to load onto rockets than liquid propellant. Its artificial intelligence technology is designed to cut labor and launch costs, according to JAXA.

Development costs for the Epsilon-5 totaled ¥5.8 billion ($51 million).

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