Japan delays asteroid mission due to its rocket problems

Japan’s space agency JAXA has decided to delay its Destiny+ mission to the asteroid Phaethon until 2025 due to the continuing problems getting its Epsilon-S rocket off the ground.

Epsilon-S is intended as an upgrade to Japan’s Epsilon rocket, but its development has been plagued by failures. In October ’22 there was a launch failure of Epsilon, and in July ’23 the second-stage solid-fueled motor of Epsilon-S exploded during a test.

Phaethon is the parent asteroid of the Geminid meteor shower that occurs each year in December. According to the original plan Destiny+ would have done its fly-by of the asteroid in 2029. No new arrival date has been announced.