| 1 March 2024, Friday |

Japan suspends H-IIA rocket launch for moonshot because of strong winds

Japan’s space agency postponed a scheduled launch of a rocket carrying what would be the country’s first spacecraft to land on the moon on Monday, citing strong winds as the reason.

Although the H-IIA rocket, Japan’s premier launch vehicle, has a 98% launch success rate, inadequate upper-atmosphere wind conditions prompted a suspension 27 minutes before the scheduled liftoff.

“High-altitude winds hit our constraint for a launch… which had been set to ensure no impact from debris falling outside of pre-warned areas,” MHI H-IIA launch unit chief Tatsuru Tokunaga stated.

Strong winds of nearly 108 kph (67 mph) were observed at an altitude of 5,000-15,000 meters (16400-49200 ft), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) safety manager Michio Kawakami said. Multiple typhoons around Japan could have affected the wind conditions, he added.

The new launch date has not been decided, but will be no sooner than Thursday because of necessary processes such as re-fueling, Tokunaga said. MHI and JAXA have said a launch could take place as late as Sept. 15.

The rocket was to be launched from JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on Monday morning; it had already been postponed twice since last week because of bad weather. It will mark the 47th H-IIA Japan has launched.

  • Reuters