A rocket launch in Japan went horribly awry on Saturday when the craft crashed back to the ground and exploded on impact.
This weekend, the MOMO-2 was meant to fly about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) into space, according to a report by CNN. Unfortunately, video footage shows that the unmanned rocket only made it about a short distance from the launch pad before stalling.
The pencil-thin craft reportedly suffered from an engine failure, and could not recover in time before losing all of its inertia. It collided with the gorund and was instantly engulfed in a ball of flame and smoke.
No injuries were reported, according to the Associated Press. Takahiro Inagawa apologized to spectators and engineers for the short-lived flight. He told reporters that he believed there was a catastrophic glitch in the rocket's main engine. He assured them that the company would not be deterred by this second failure. They collected all of the broken components so that they could fully analyze the problem and improve it before the next launch.
Interstellar Industries focuses on low-cost rockets that can carry information satellites into space. The company hopes to make the technology available to more entrepreneurs, perhaps disrupting the existing monopolies in the field. The company was founded by Takafumi Horie, who had previously created an Internet service provider known as Livedoor. Before long, the project attracted other wealthy benefactors and space travel enthusiasts, interested in disrupting the inefficient marketplace.
Of course, they're not the only ones, as the United States has a company of its own that is going after commercial space travel. Elon Musk's SpaceX famously suffered a few catastrophic launches as well in its early days. The company was considered a pipe dream by many, yet recently it has had a string of huge successes, including the launching of Musk's personal car into space as an act of expensive whimsy.
In March, Musk himself asserted that his company would begin carrying human beings to Mars next year, in 2019. He made the announcement during a question and answer session at the South by Southwest festival.
"We are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think well [s.i.c.] be able to [do] short trips, flights by first half of next year," Musk said, according to CNBC. "Although sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know..."