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Japan's low-cost rocket flies low. Into ocean

Staff Writer |
Japan's efforts to develop low-cost satellite launch vehicles has been hit hard as the country's space agency was forced to abandon a rocket in midflight Sunday due to a communications problem.

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said it was unable to receive data from the rocket. It was Japan's first failure to launch a rocket carrying a satellite into space since 2003.

The mini-rocket, some 10 meters long and 50cm in diameter, was launched from the Uchinoura Space Center in southern Japan at 8:33 a.m. as scheduled.

The three-stage rocket blasted off successfully, but transmission of data, such as the rocket's temperature and altitude, stopped during the first stage of the launch sequence.

The space agency, known as JAXA, decided to abort the second stage, due to the possibility of the rocket heading in an unexpected direction.

The rocket is believed to have fallen into the ocean with the satellite on board.

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