Epsilon Launch Rescheduled: Japan's JAXA Has it All Figured Out
Some kinda computer glitch signal delay miscommunication thingy kept JAXA’s next-gen, high-tech, super user-friendly Epsilon smartrocket & cargo grounded on August 27; now, comms are 5-by-5 and a new launch date is set. Except for the maybe not part. Patience - it actually is rocket science.
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Let My SmartRocket Go to Space!
According to JAXA, what canceled Epsilon’s previous launch, originally reported as a possible attitude or posture irregularity, was actually a 0.7-second signal delay between the rocket’s internal systems processor and that of the remote operating platform. The rocket was pointing in the right direction, but couldn’t reconcile the mismatched signal timing - very basically, using its built-in smarts, the rocket initiated an auto-abort, and on the launchpad it remained.
JAXA got right on it, and as suspected it wasn’t really all that big of an issue. Realistically, they deserve a bit of patience:
Very New Supertech Launch System + Shiny New Smartrocket + Humans Forgetting Stuff = a few bumps here and there.
Better to be safe than to be flaming debris.
So, the launch from the Uchinoura Space Center in southwestern Japan has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 14 - possibly later, with further details pending. Might be bad weather, might be whatever; might not be able to launch. JAXA’s preferred window spans the entire month of September, so further delays are acceptable in the larger scope of things. Again, you know, rocket science.
Why SmartRocket Epsilon Matters
For those in need, last week’s Epsilon piece goes a bit deeper, but the broad strokes break down like this: Japan’s new smartrocket is cheap, fast, easy, and unlike pretty much every space cargo vehicle out there, Epsilon requires only minimal input and evaluation from the humans on the ground, e.g., the rocket’s on-board diagnostic system supplants the iconic room full of space guys remotely combing through pre-launch details.
Epsilon’s first mission is getting the SPRINT-A (Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere) satellite up beyond the blue, but really, the big show here is demonstrating that the aforementioned big, slow, expensive room full of space guys - the system we’ve had for like 60+ years - is long overdue for an upgrade.
Success here, in addition to cutting costs, timeframes, and streamlining JAXA’s own projects, should also attract more of that international rocket-for-hire space cash. And who doesn’t want space cash?
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Images: JAXA; AkihabaraNews.com