Launch of private Japanese firm's rocket fails

Launch of private Japanese firm's rocket fails

A small rocket developed by a Japanese startup company has failed to enter space. It was launched on Saturday but fell to the ground, bursting into flames.

Interstellar Technologies, based in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, developed and produced the 10-meter-long rocket.

It was launched around 5:30 AM from a site in the town of Taiki in the prefecture, but fell soon after liftoff.

The company and firefighters say the area within a 600-meter radius of the launch site was cordoned off, and that no one was injured.

Interstellar Technologies has been developing and producing space rockets on its own, and is aiming to become the first private Japanese company to send them more than 100 kilometers above the Earth.

The company's first rocket was launched in July of last year, but it broke at an altitude of 10 kilometers. The company said larger-than-expected force was applied to the rocket.

The company was to launch another rocket in April this year, but canceled it after finding a problem with its body shortly before the scheduled liftoff.

Rocket development in the country has been led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, a public entity.