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Explosion Occurs During Rocket Combustion Experiment at JAXA Facility in Akita Prefecture

Courtesy of Minoru Otsuka
An explosion occurs during a ground combustion test of the Epsilon-S engine, around 9 a.m. Friday in Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture.

NOSHIRO, Akita — An explosion occurred Friday morning during a ground combustion experiment in Noshiro, Akita Prefecture, and firefighters are working to put out a fire that spread to the test center building, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Staff was evacuated from the Noshiro Rocket Testing Center and no injuries were reported. The blast occurred at 9 a.m., but it was not yet known what exploded nor the cause.

According to the JAXA website, the testing facility was established in 1962. Its main purpose is to conduct ground combustion tests of solid rocket motors required in the research and development of observation rockets, scientific satellites, and the Mu rockets used for launching probes from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.