A fire broke out at the base of a Japanese H-2B rocket Tuesday during final preparations for launch of an HTV cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS).
The HTV cargo ship, carrying replacement batteries for ISS' solar power system and 2.5 tons of crew supplies and equipment, suffered no apparent damage.
A live YouTube feed showing the rocket on the launch pad appeared normal until around 2:05 p.m. EDT (3:05 a.m. local time) when bright orange flame suddenly erupted at or near the base of the rocket.
Going into Tuesday's launch campaign, the H-2B rocket boasted a flawless record in seven previous flights of HTV space station cargo ships.
The space station currently is well supplied and a delay getting the HTV-8 cargo to the lab complex is not expected to cause any hardship for the crew.
The station crew was gearing up for two and possibly three spacewalks to install the six new batteries being delivered by the HTV, the third of four sets needed to replace older, less efficient batteries in the lab's solar power system.
Against that backdrop, Boeing is readying its CST-100 Starliner crew ferry ship for a long-awaited unpiloted test flight to the station last this fall or early winter.