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Privately developed observation rocket Momo fails to reach space

  • July 30, 2017
  • , The Japan News , 7:44 p.m.
  • English Press

A small observation rocket launched by start-up Interstellar Technologies Inc. on Sunday failed to reach space.

 

The first Momo rocket, developed by the company, based in the town of Taiki, in Hokkaido, was launched from a site in the town.

 

The company aimed to bring the rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers or higher in outer space. But its engine was stopped as communication with the rocket was disrupted about 80 seconds after liftoff, company officials said.

 

The rocket is believed to have risen to an altitude of 30-40 kilometers, the officials said, adding that it did not reach space.

 

The rocket was about 10 meters in height and about 50 centimeters in diameter, and weighed about 1 ton. The single-stage rocket used ethanol as liquid fuel.

 

The rocket had been expected to reach a maximum altitude of 100 kilometers about four minutes after the launch and fall into the sea about six minutes and 40 seconds following the liftoff. If the flight had been successful, it would have been the first such milestone by a rocket developed solely by a Japanese private company.

 

Devices weighing up to about 20 kilograms can be installed on the rocket, and it is possible to conduct a science experiment under a four-minute zero-gravity state during the flight, according to the officials. Such devices can be recovered using a parachute.

 

No device for an experiment was installed on the first Momo rocket because it was a test version.

 

Interstellar Technologies is planning to offer rocket launch services for science experiments and other purposes in the future.

 

The company aims to curb production costs at around tens of millions of yen per rocket, about 10 percent of those for an observation rocket of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.

 

The launch of the first Momo rocket was initially slated for Saturday afternoon, but was postponed to Sunday due to unfavorable weather.

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