Watch Japan's Epsilon Rocket Launch the ASNARO-2 Radar Earth Satellite

A Japanese Epsilon rocket launched a new Earth-observation satellite into space this week, notching a third successful flight for the solid-fueled booster. 

The Epsilon rocket lifted off the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Uchinoura Space Center at 6:06 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Jan. 18, JAXA officials said. Just under an hour later, the rocket delivered its payload, the ASNARO-2 radar Earth-observation satellite, into orbit. 

"The launch and flight of Epsilon-3 took place normally,"' JAXA officials said in a statement.

A Japanese Epsilon rocket launches the ASNARO-2 radar Earth-observation satellite from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Uchinoura Space Center on Jan. 18, 2018 (Japan Standard Time). (Image credit: JAXA)


The Epsilon booster is a three-stage solidfueled rocket topped with a compact liquid-fueled propulsion system for this Epsilon-3 mission. It is nearly 79 feet tall (24 meters) and can carry payloads of up 1,543 lbs. (700 kilograms) into low-Earth orbit.

For this mission, the Epsilon rocket delivered ASNARO-2 (short for Advanced Small-size Radar Satellite 2) into orbit for Japan's NEC Corporation. The launch had been delayed from November 2017 so engineers could address an incompatibility issue in the booster's electrical system, JAXA officials have said. 

JAXA's Epsilon rocket made its debut flight in 2013. A second mission, Epsilon-2, launched in December 2016.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.