Japan postpones the launch of an X-ray telescope due to the accident of a new rocket

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has decided to postpone the launch of the H-2A rocket scheduled for May. It was supposed to launch the XRISM X-ray telescope into space, as well as the SLIM lunar mission.

Accident of the new Japanese rocket

The decision to postpone was made due to the consequences of the accident of the new H3 rocket. It happened on March 7. Initially, the H3 flight took place in normal mode. But there was a failure at the work site of the second stage, and as a result, the flight controllers had to detonate the rocket. Its wreckage fell into the Pacific Ocean.

Launch of the H3 rocket. Source: Bloomberg

The problem is that the H3 design uses a lot of parts from the H-2A rocket (it was created for the purpose of its gradual replacement). Since investigators are not yet sure which component malfunction led to the accident, JAXA had to make the decision to postpone the next launch of the H-2A. It was scheduled for May.

New X-ray telescope of the land of the Rising Sun

H-2A should launch two spacecraft into space. The main cargo is the XRISM X-ray telescope. It was built to replace the Hitomi spacecraft, which was lost just 37 days after its launch in 2016. The cause of the accident was a failure in the stabilization system of the spacecraft. The on-board computer mistakenly decided that the Hitomi began to rotate around its axis and decided to “correct” the situation with the help of the main engines. This led to the fact that the telescope spun and the centrifugal force simply tore off all the fragile and protruding elements, including solar panels. After that, the newest 285-millionth device was already impossible to save.

X-ray telescope XRISM (concept). Source: JAXA

The second cargo on board the H-2A is the SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon). This is a demonstrator designed to test a new technology for precise landing at a given point on the surface of the Moon. A multispectral camera will be placed on board, with the help of which Japanese scientists plan to explore the landing area. 

At the moment, the launch of the H-2A has been postponed to August. This is the date of the next ballistic window for a flight to the Moon. But if the investigation of the H3 accident drags on, the flight of XRISM and SLIM will be postponed to the end of the year.

According to https://spacenews.com

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