Japan's rocket explodes mid-air

Japan's Kairos rocket, made by Space One, exploded seconds after lifting off shortly after its inaugural launch, resulting in a large cloud of smoke and fire at the launchpad area.
Japan's Kairos rocket
Japan's Kairos rocket

Kairos, a small, solid-fueled rocket made by Japan's Space One, exploded shortly after its inaugural launch on Wednesday as the firm tried to become the first Japanese company to put a satellite in orbit.

The 18-metre (59 ft) solid-fuel rocket exploded seconds after lifting off at 11:01 am (local time), leaving behind a large cloud of smoke, a fire, fragments of the rocket and firefighting water sprays near the launch pad, visible on local media livestreams.

Although Japan is a relatively small player in the space race, the nation's rocket developers are scrambling to build cheaper vehicles to capture booming demand for satellite launches from its government and from global clients.

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