WASHINGTON — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was forced to postpone the inaugural launch of its Epsilon small-satellite launcher Aug. 27 just prior to liftoff after a sensor reading indicated an anomaly aboard the vehicle.

The first mission of the solid-fueled Epsilon, a reprise of JAXA’s small-satellite launching capability, will loft the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) scientific satellite from the Uchinoura Space Center. The countdown was aborted “because an automatic stop alarm was issued as an attitude abnormality was detected approximately 19 seconds prior to the liftoff time during the automatic countdown sequence.”

JAXA said it is investigating the issue. No new launch date has been announced.  

Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the spacenews.com Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...