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Japanese Epsilon Rocket Aims to Make Space Missions Low in Cost

With artificial intelligence and half the size of Japan’s usual space apparatus, the Epsilon rocket launched Saturday only costs £23 million to produce and develop, lowering the cost of Japan’s previous space missions by the same amount.

The Epsilon’s first mission was to carry a telescope that would observe local terrestrial planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter from a fixed orbit around earth. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency developed the Sprint-A telescope and the telescope will remain 1,000 KM above the Earth’s surface.

The Sprint-A satellite, or the Spectoscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere weighs 771 lbs and will orbit the earth for one year.

The rocket holds a 910-ton solid-fueled booster that could carry up to 2,646 lbs of space apparatus and is half the size of its predecessor, the M-V rocket, which was retired in 2006.

The Epsilon has an artificial intelligence that allows it to perform automated self-checks and navigation without human aid. The Epsilon was scheduled to launch during Aug 27, but because of synchronization issues and technical glitches, JAXA decided to launch the satellite after three weeks.

The rocket performed flawlessly and JAXA reports that the Sprint-A satellite is in good health resting on its orbit.


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