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Tech Forecast

Using Artificial Intelligence, Japan Just Launched A Rocket On The Cheap

Just eight people were at the launch site, rather than the 150 needed for previous launches.

Japan has sent a rocket into space in what it hopes will be the start of cheaper space exploration. Epsilon, which launched on Saturday afternoon, is about half the size of normal rockets, and relies on artificial intelligence to do its final safety checks—meaning just eight people were at the launch site, rather than the 150 needed for previous launches. On board was the Sprint-A telescope, which was released 620 miles above the Earth's surface, and which will be observing Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.

The Epsilon is Japan's first rocket launch in seven years, and cost just half of what its predecessor, the M-5, cost to send into space. Last month, the country put a tiny robot named Kirobo into space, which will meet Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata on the space station in November.

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