Japan’s unmanned experimental space shuttle passed its second test on Tuesday after climbing to 2500 metres and beginning its descent at a steep 13 degrees, a space agency official said.

The 18 minute and 30 second flight began at 5.22am (15h22 GMT on Monday) from Christmas Island in the Pacific nation of Kiribati, the agency said.

The jet-powered shuttle went higher than a previous test by 1900 metres and faster by 50 kilometres per hour by reaching a speed of around 342 kph upon its descent.