TOKYO — The launch of a rocket by a private Japanese venture was cut short after liftoff Sunday due to a communications failure.

Hundreds of spectators gathered to watch, applauding as the rocket took off from a launching pad on Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido.

The rocket’s developers, Interstellar Technologies, said they aborted the launch after about 80 seconds and it landed about 8 kilometers (5 miles) offshore.

The aim had been to launch the rocket, called “Momo,” to an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles), but it only traveled about 30-40 kilometers (19-25 miles).

Japanese government-funded projects have launched more than 30 rockets.

Former Livedoor Co. President and founder of Interstellar Technologies Takafumi Horie said he believed data from the test launch would prove useful.

The company hopes eventually to launch rockets capable of carrying passengers for space travel. But it plans to start by launching small satellites.

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