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Bad weather postpones Japan rocket launch

Japan today postponed the launch of a rocket due to deploy an experimental "space yacht" propelled by solar particles because of bad weather at the launch site, officials said.

world Updated: May 18, 2010 07:52 IST

Japan on Tuesday postponed the launch of a rocket due to deploy an experimental "space yacht" propelled by solar particles because of bad weather at the launch site, officials said.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) decided on the delay six minutes before the scheduled launch of the H-IIA rocket, set for 6:44 am (2144 GMT Monday), as the weather at the Tanegashima space centre in southern Japan worsened.

"There is a risk of thunderstorms," a JAXA official said.

The rocket was to blast off with "space yacht" Ikaros -- an acronym for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun -- which is propelled by the pressure of sunlight particles bouncing off its sail.

The launch would take place on Friday at the earliest, Jiji press and other local media reported.

Ikaros, which has cost 1.5 billion yen (16 million dollars) to develop, will be the first use of the technology in deep space. Past experiments have been limited to unfolding its sail in orbits around the Earth.