Nation & World News

Japan Uses Laptops, Cost-Cutting To Launch Rocket Into Space

By Bill Chappell on September 14th, 2013

Japan has sent a space telescope into orbit, as its new Epsilon rocket delivered its payload Saturday. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the successful launch is a step toward its goal “to lower hurdles to space” by simplifying rocket launches and making them more affordable. The launch was reportedly done via laptop.

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

The space agency, known as JAXA, says it was also able to cut costs by having the space vehicle perform checks of its own mission-readiness autonomously, and by shortening the length of time it takes to prepare for a launch. The Epsilon rocket uses solid fuel.

“Costing just $37-million (albeit not directly comparable, NASA claims a typical launch costs around $450-million) to send off, Jaxa… rightly considers it a steal,” reports Engadget.

As part of its approach, JAXA says, it’s developing equipment standards that can be used across several vehicles. Describing its long-term plan, the agency says, “Ultimately, through [the] internet, we will be able to check and control rockets anywhere in the world simply by using a laptop computer.”

The new satellite, which will focus its attention on the planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, was launched from the Uchinoura Space Center.

Called the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A), the satellite has been given the nickname of Hisaki, according to JAXA, in honor of a cape near its launch site.

And the space telescope’s name also hints at its goals.

“Our observation targets are beyond (“saki” in Japanese) the sun (“Hi” in Japanese),” JAXA says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

#NPRReads: Social Concern And The Drought In California

Also this week, a profile of plus-sized model Tess Holliday, algorithms in plain(ish) English, and suicide clusters in Palo Alto, Calif.


State Department Releases Clinton Emails

The department released the first batch of 296 emails from the former secretary of state’s email accounts, which were provided to the Select Committee on Benghazi in February.


A bird covered in oil flaps its wings at Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif., on Thursday. More than 9,000 gallons of oil has been raked, skimmed and vacuumed from a spill that stretched across 9 miles of California coast, just a fraction of the sticky, stinking goo that escaped from a broken pipeline, officials said.

Pipeline Operator: Possibly Months To Determine Cause Of Calif. Spill

Plains All American, the company that operates the pipeline, says it has yet to uncover the problem. So far, 9,000 gallons of sludge have been removed from a 9-mile stretch near Santa Barbara.


In this photo released Thursday by a website run by Islamic State militants, damaged Syrian helicopters sit at Palmyra air base, which was captured by ISIS after a battle with the Syrian government forces earlier this week.

Islamic State Reportedly Seizes Last Syria-Iraq Border Crossing

The checkpoint at al-Tanf, known as al-Waleed in Iraq, has been seized, according to a British-based monitoring group that says ISIS fighters now control half of Syria.


Nuns vote on a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage, at a polling station in County Dublin, Ireland, on Friday.

Irish Voters Decide Whether To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Polls show the “yes” vote is stronger in the conservative, predominantly Catholic country. But public opinion surveys could be masking a “shy no vote,” observers say.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments