Japan reschedules H3 rocket launch to March 6, after Feb 17 abort

White smoke emerges from the main engines of the next-generation H3 rocket (left) as it fails to lift off the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan on Feb 17, 2023. (PHOTO / STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP)

TOKYO – Japan's space agency said it plans to launch what would be its first new medium-lift rocket in three decades on March 6, more than two weeks after the initially scheduled launch was aborted.

The final decision will be made taking into account weather conditions, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on Friday.

JAXA on Feb 17 suspended the launch of the H3 rocket, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, moments before the planned lift-off because its secondary booster engines failed to ignite.

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Japan built the H3 to enhance its independent access to space and boost its chances of capturing a bigger share of the global launch market from rivals.