Japan's new solid-fuel rocket blasts off in laptop-controlled launch

Japan's new solid-fuel rocket launches at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Uchinoura Space Centre in Kagoshima, south-western Japan on Saturday, Sept 14, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Japan's new solid-fuel rocket launches at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Uchinoura Space Centre in Kagoshima, south-western Japan on Saturday, Sept 14, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's new solid-fuel rocket blasted off on Saturday carrying a telescope for remote observation of planets in a launch coordinated from a laptop computer-based command centre.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Epsilon rocket from the Uchinoura Space Centre in Kagoshima, south-western Japan, at 2pm, live footage showed.

Lift-off had originally been scheduled for Aug 27, but the first attempt was suspended with just seconds to go after a ground control computer falsely detected a positional abnormality.

Japan hopes the rocket, launched with just two laptop computers in a pared-down command centre, will become competitive in the global space business.

The three-stage Epsilon - 24m long and weighing 91 tonnes - was scheduled to release the Sprint-A telescope at an altitude of 1,000km.

JAXA is expected to comment whether the launch was a success after confirming the release of the telescope.

Sprint-A is the world's first space telescope for remote observation of planets including Venus, Mars and Jupiter from its orbit around Earth, according to JAXA.