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Rocket developed by Japanese startup explodes after liftoff

This combination of photos shows the launch of a Japan's privately developed rocket, MOMO-2, from left to right, fails in Taiki, northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, Saturday, June 30, 2018. According to Kyodo News, the launch failed Saturday, as the rocket crashed to the ground and burst into flames seconds after liftoff, its developer said. (Masanori Takei/Kyodo News via AP)

A rocket developed by a Japanese startup company has exploded seconds after liftoff in northern Japan, bursting into flames.

The MOMO-2 rocket, developed by Interstellar Technologies, was launched early Saturday in Taiki town on Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island. It was supposed to reach as high as 100 kilometers (62 miles) into space.

Television footage showed that the 10-meter (33-foot) pencil rocket lifted only slightly from its launch pad before dropping to the ground, disappearing in a fireball.

The explosion caused no injuries.

Interstellar Technologies president Takahiro Inagawa said he believes the rocket suffered a glitch in its main engine.

Saturday's failure was the second after the rocket's first launch last July.

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