Japan’s much-vaunted launch of its flagship rocket was a fizzer — a disappointing result as competition with Elon Musk’s SpaceX intensifies and the island nation looks to expand its defense prowess amid growing geopolitical tensions.

While weather conditions were good, the H3 rocket’s side booster failed to ignite, officials said Friday morning. Sparks flew from the craft as it prepared to take off, but within seconds they spluttered to a halt.

"It’s expected that it will take longer to examine the situation,” JAXA, or the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, said during a live broadcast after the launch was aborted.