The Momo No. 2 rocket develops apparent engine problems almost immediately after its early June 30 launch. (Video footage provided by Interstellar Technologies Inc.)

TAIKI, Hokkaido--A start-up backed by Internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie failed for a second time June 30 to launch an inexpensive rocket into outer space.

Momo No. 2 barely lifted off before plummeting back to Earth and erupting in a fireball.

There were no immediate reports of injuries from the failed 5:30 a.m. launch, the second experienced by Interstellar Technologies Inc.

"We have never seen a failure like this," Horie, the well-known founder of Internet company Livedoor Co., told reporters. "We are thinking about what we can do to maintain some tie to the next step even as the future remains barely visible."

Company president Takahiro Inagawa said engine trouble appeared to have been the cause of the problem.

The Momo No. 2 rocket was 10 meters long, 50 centimeters in diameter and weighed 1,150 kilograms.

Company employees at the command center about 600 meters from the launch pad were ordered to evacuate for fear of being caught by falling debris.

The predecessor to Interstellar Techologies was established in 2003 to develop rockets to launch small satellites into space. The company tried to assemble the Momo rocket using readily available electronic parts as a way to cut costs.

It was seeking to become the first Japanese private-sector company to develop its own rocket capable of reaching space.

The first Momo rocket was launched in July 2017, but the engine was shut down after about a minute, when communications were lost. The rocket had reached a height of about 20 kilometers but splashed down into the ocean.

The Momo No. 2 rocket was initially scheduled for an April launch, but that had to be postponed as nitrogen gas was found to be leaking.