Skip to main content

Watch this Japanese rocket explode just seconds after launch

A Japanese rocket exploded just seconds after launching on its maiden flight on Wednesday. The vehicle was uncrewed and no one was hurt in the incident.

Footage of the launch, which was supposed to deploy a government test satellite, shows the 18-meter-tall Kairos rocket erupting into a huge fireball just five seconds after getting airborne. Burning debris falling to the ground also caused a blaze back at the launch site.

BREAKING: Space One rocket explodes during launch from southern Japan pic.twitter.com/8IWiu2bRKa

— BNO News (@BNONews) March 13, 2024

The rocket’s maker, Tokyo-based Space One, said in a statement: “The launch of the first Kairos rocket was executed, but we took a measure to abort the flight.” However, details of what prompted it to take such drastic action have yet to be revealed.

Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning “the right moment,” but the mission proved anything but for the disappointed team. A successful mission would have seen Space One become the first private Japanese company to deploy a satellite in orbit. The failure is a setback for Japan’s efforts to enter the commercial satellite launch market in which SpaceX, Rocket Lab, and others are enjoying growing success. But the Space One team will take what it learned from Wednesday’s failed attempt and try again.

It hasn’t all been bad news for the country’s space efforts. In February, for example, Japan’s space agency, JAXA, successfully launched its flagship H3 rocket, though admittedly, the route to flight was anything but smooth. A month earlier, it managed to get a spacecraft onto the moon, becoming only the fifth country to achieve a soft landing there. The nation has also sent a number of astronauts to the International Space Station using NASA hardware, with the most recent one returning safely to Earth on Tuesday following a six-month stay in orbit.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Watch this cool close-up footage of SpaceX’s rocket booster landing
A Falcon 9 booster landing in January 2024.

SpaceX successfully launched a Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday.

It was the first time for SpaceX to launch the Cygnus, whose 19 previous missions had involved Antares or Atlas rockets.

Read more
How to watch the Axiom 3 mission launch on Thursday
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is pictured docked to the space-facing port on the International Space Station’s Harmony module.

UPDATE: The launch has now been moved from Wednesday to Thursday. The article below has been updated to reflect the new schedule.

This coming Thursday, January 18, will see the third launch to the International Space Station by private company Axiom, with a European Space Agency (ESA)-sponsored astronaut joining three other crew members.

Read more
Five rocket launches to look out for in 2024
SpaceX's Starship rocket lifting off in November 2023.

This year promises a bunch of launches featuring new rockets from a range of operators. Let's take a look at five notable rocket launches that are sure to make headlines over the coming months:
ULA’s Vulcan Centaur

The first of these takes place on Monday, January 8, with United Launch Alliance conducting the maiden launch of its brand-new Vulcan Centaur rocket. The 202-feet-tall (61.6-meter) vehicle will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a mission to become the first to land a privately built lander on the moon.

Read more