Impressive explosion in the middle of a Japanese orbital rocket's liftoff

Kairus launch photo

The proportion of failed maiden flights has only increased in recent years. Even for an institution like the veteran United Launch Alliance, with its director at the helm, they were surprised by the success of their Vulcan. Exceptions are rare, however, and Space One's brand new KAIROS has proved it.

Image Launching kairos
Launch image provided by the company

Eye-catching selections

Space One is just one more company, and not exactly a very prominent one in the New Space. The Kairos is their first launch vehicle and is truly limited in capabilities, but that's not the worst of it. In the end, 250 kilograms to low Earth orbit is a capacity that is not abnormally low either. The greatest exponent of the revolution, the Electron, lifts a maximum of 300 kilograms.

But the layout of the stages and especially the fuel used is very unfortunate. The only comparison, and it is really disheartening, even if the newcomer is the winner, is against the Minotaur I. This launcher is considered the father of the micro-launchers, albeit with many differences.

The main one is most likely, apart from the origin, the fuel used. While the current generation of microlancers is inconceivable without either kerolox or methalox engines, the Minotaur and the Kairos are built with solid fuel propulsion.

Image explosion by @koumeishibata
Image of the moment of the explosion, the still burning remnants of the fuel are the white wreckage. around the grajn central column of smoke. Courtesy @koumeishibata

Kairos maiden flight ended in a brutal explosion

The Kairos rocket was involved in a loud explosion with some distinctive characteristics of solid-fuel rockets. For example, debris from solid fuelThese do not combust in a large explosion as is usually the case with those using liquids. They surround the vehicle in all directions after destruction.

One of the most significant points when talking about incidents so early in the flight is that the launch tower was apparently not damaged. Although they may seem a minor infrastructure, this is not true, their construction takes years, and their cost is not trivial. They are full of wiring, sensors, cameras, computers and above all the material necessary to make the rocket take off. It is not possible to take off from just any site, and not all of them are prepared for the fire and shockwave impact of a launch. Well it SpaceX tested on its maiden flight of the Starship causing enormous damage to the rocket, to the platform and even to the space surrounding the take-off area.

The brutal explosion of the rocket is not something that should discourage the company. It is something that happened, happens and will happen many more times. No one is free from explosions, the path to orbit is very complicated and full of debris. ABL Space Systems also damaged its launch tower with an explosion at low altitude and not for that they lost such relevant supports as Lockheed Martin or Amazon. The Kairos will take off again, the companies behind Space One are numerous and powerful, including for example the well-known Canon. but it will not be a quick or simple process.

Martin Morala Andres