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A Satellite Launch Lights Up the Night Sky Over Japan

Japanese rocket launch

JAXA's Epsilon 2 rocket, just prior to launch on December 20, 2016. Screencap from JAXA official YouTube channel.

Thanks to a nighttime sky and good weather, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) satellite launch on December 20 provided onlookers with an excellent view and plenty of images shared on social media.

JAXA successfully sent off the Epsilon solid-fuel rocket from the Uchinoura Space Center in southwest Japan with the purpose of launching a satellite that will study Earth's radiation belts. JAXA's Epsilon rocket programme is also intended to speed up and reduce the costs of launching satellites into space.

The Epsilon 2 rocket:

Launch is GO!!
Photos are also GO!!

Congratulations to everyone! (^‿^) #epsilon #rocket #uchiura space center

“A beautiful glow in the nighttime sky.” Asahi Shimbun Digital has uploaded aerial and ground-based photos of the successful Epsilon 2 launch. After the rocket faded from view in the night, the stars and the rocket plume were beautiful in the night sky.

The nighttime launch offered a sight to onlookers from all over southern Kyushu, a large island in western Japan. Some had ringside seats in Kimotsuki, the small village that hosts the JAXA launch facility.

“It was really impressive.” It has been approximately three years and three months since the first Epsilon rocket was successfully launched. This time, more than a thousand rocket fans gathered to watch the launch of Epsilon 2.

A view of the Epsilon 2 launch of Uchinoura fishing port [about two kilometers from the launch site].

However, the launch could also be seen in the city of Kagoshima, about 50 kilometers to the northeast.

We were located quite a ways away from the launch, lol.

My attempt at a photo of the Epsilon launch…

I didn't have much time after I got off work to find a spot to shoot the launch, so this is all I was able to capture, lol.

More photos and videos of the launch can be seen by exploring the hashtags #イプシロン (Epsilon), #ロケット (rocket) and #内之浦 (Uchinoura).

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