The Epsilon rocket lifts off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kimotsuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Dec. 20, carrying a satellite into orbit. (Video footage by Chisato Yokota and Kenichiro Yoshiyama.)

KIMOTSUKI, Kagoshima Prefecture--Japan's next-generation solid fuel rocket made its second successful launch on Dec. 20, placing a satellite into orbit that will study how space storms form.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) used its Epsilon rocket for the launch at 8 p.m. from the Uchinoura Space Center here. The successful launch of the Epsilon was the first for the smaller rocket since September 2013.

About 13 minutes after lift-off, the ERG (Exploration of Energization and Radiation in Geospace) satellite payload separated and was placed into orbit.

JAXA officials have dubbed the new satellite, which will survey the Earth's Van Allen radiation belts, "Arase."

The Epsilon is a solid-fuel rocket that is about half the length of the liquid-fueled H-2A, Japan's standard launch vehicle.

Launch costs for the Epsilon have been reduced with the introduction of an automatic onboard inspection system involving computers. A single launch of the Epsilon costs about 5 billion yen ($41 million), about half that of an H-2A launch.

JAXA officials are seeking to use the Epsilon to enter the international launch market for small satellites that is expected to expand in the future.