TOKYO: The launch of Japan’s new medium-lift rocket on Tuesday ended in failure when the launcher’s second-stage engine did not ignite as planned, dealing a blow to the country’s efforts to lower the cost of space travel and compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

JAXA’s live broadcast showed that the 57-meter H3 rocket successfully launched from the Tanegashima space port.

But the second stage engine failed to light in space, so the rocket had to be destroyed by hand.

As one JAXA commentator on the launch broadcast put it, “the destruct command was sent” after it became clear the rocket would not be able to complete its mission. So, tell me, what went down. We need to examine all of the data to see if this is the case.

The previous launch attempt had also failed the month prior.

A professor at Osaka University who specializes in space policy, Hirotaka Watanabe, characterized this attempt as a “complete failure,” in contrast to the previous cancelation and postponement.

The future of Japan’s space policy, space business, and technological competitiveness will be negatively affected, he said.

The ALOS-3 satellite, a disaster management land observation satellite, and an experimental infrared sensor designed to detect North Korean ballistic missile launches were launched aboard Japan’s first new rocket in three decades.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI), the company responsible for building the H3, has stated that it is currently confirming the status of the rocket with JAXA and therefore has no immediate comment.

According to MHI, the H3 will have a launch cost that is roughly half that of the H-II, which will help it compete with SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket in the global launch market.

A representative for the company previously stated that the success of the company was dependent on the trustworthiness of Japan’s previous rockets.

In a September report, the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated that sending a kilogram of cargo into low Earth orbit via Falcon 9 would cost $2,600. The H-II is available for the equivalent of $10,500.

Had the launch gone off without a hitch on Tuesday, the Japanese rocket would have blasted off into space before the European Space Agency’s new, more cost-effective Ariane 6 vehicle.

The H3 will transport supplies to the International Space Station and launch government and commercial satellites into Earth orbit using a new simpler, lower-cost engine that features 3D-printed parts.

In addition to transporting Japanese astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, it will also eventually transport cargo to the Gateway lunar space station, which the United States space agency NASA plans to build as part of its program to return people to the moon.