4. JAXA launches Epsilon-3 rocket
Japan's space agency has successfully launched its Epsilon-3 small rocket, carrying an Earth observation satellite developed by Japanese electronics firm NEC.
The launch took place at 6:06 AM on Thursday Japan time from the Uchinoura Space Center in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima.
The Earth observation satellite ASNARO-2 is the Epsilon's first payload commissioned by the private sector.
The rocket put the satellite into Earth orbit at an altitude of around 500 kilometers shortly before 7 AM.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, developed the new small rocket to reduce the launch cost of smaller satellites. Demand for such satellites is rising among emerging countries.
The launch cost of the Epsilon-3 is estimated at about 36 million dollars, roughly half the cost of conventional rockets.
JAXA says it expects a successful launch would result in orders from emerging countries.