The solid-fuelled Kairos rocket, developed by Japanese company Space One, exploded mere seconds after liftoff.

Space One’s Kairos rocket, designed to be the first Japanese satellite launcher, suffered a catastrophic explosion shortly after its maiden launch on Wednesday. The 18-meter, four-stage solid-fuel rocket disintegrated just seconds after liftoff at around 11:01 am, engulfing the launch site on the scenic Kii Peninsula in western Japan in a billowing cloud of smoke, flames, and debris.

Live-stream viewers from local media witnessed firefighting measures swiftly activated near the launch pad in response to the explosion. Despite the dramatic scene, there were no reported injuries in the vicinity of the launch site, and the resulting fire was promptly brought under control, as confirmed by provincial governor Shuhei Kishimoto.

Space One stated that the flight was “interrupted” following the launch failure and assured that an investigation into the incident was underway. As of now, the cause of the explosion remains undetermined.

Space One emphasized the highly automated nature of their launch process, requiring only around a dozen personnel at the ground control center to oversee operations.

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