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It appears a programming error might have caused the scrub of Japan’s new Epsilon rocket launch yesterday.

It appears a programming error might have caused the scrub of Japan’s new Epsilon rocket launch yesterday.

The computer controlling the launch from the ground detected an abnormality in the rocket position but it was later found to be normal. “It may have been an elementary, but not serious, problem, ” said one of the experts, quoted by the Kyodo News agency. An inspection after the canceled launch found no abnormality with the attitude sensors mounted on the rocket or with the computer feeding the data to the ground, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

This is a preliminary report, but sounds credible. The report also suggests that the Japanese are in no immediate hurry to launch but instead want to very carefully investigate the issue first. And as I said yesterday, this is really all good news for this new rocket.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • BSJ

    But the “computer” was supposed to take care of the “simple” stuff…

  • Edward

    The computer DID take care of the “simple” stuff. It saw a potential problem, stopped the launch, and alerted the ground crew. It is much better to clear up any confusions before launch than during launch or during the mission. If only the Mars Climate Observer (AKA Mars Surveyor), the first Ariane 5 rocket (Ariane 501), etc. had discovered their problems in time to do something about it…

  • BSJ

    There was no REAL problem. It shut things down, when it sould have let it launch. So the computer was the problem…

  • Edward

    It is SO much better to not launch because of a false positive than to launch because of a false negative.

    This business still has plenty of maturing to do.

    Getting into space is difficult, expensive, and dangerous. Out of control rockets can — and have — crash into inhabited towns. I greatly prefer a delayed launch to a lost payload or mission – or crew. I do not laugh at or mock a launch crew that plays it safe or over-sensitizes its computer programs. The alternatives turn out to be too expensive.

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