Japanese space start-up to launch rocket on April 30 after last year’s fiasco

A Japanese aerospace start-up said Friday it will launch a rocket into outer space on April 30, following last year’s fiasco in which its rocket crashed to the ground and burst into flames seconds after liftoff.

Interstellar Technologies Inc., based in Hokkaido, northern Japan, will make its third attempt to launch what would be the nation’s first privately developed rocket to reach space, or an altitude of over 100 kilometers.

The company unveiled its latest small-sized, unmanned rocket, MOMO-3, which will be launched from a test site in the town of Taiki.

In June, the predecessor MOMO-2 lost thrust immediately after liftoff due to a problem with its main engine, and the video footage of its explosion was carried by media outlets around the world.

MOMO-3, the design of which is almost the same as that of MOMO-2, is about 10 meters long, 50 centimeters in diameter, and 1 ton in weight. But it has an improved gas ejector, the company said.

The rocket will be loaded with equipment developed by Kochi University of Technology to study how sound waves propagate in outer space.

“We did everything we could,” Takafumi Horie, founder of the company and former Livedoor Co. president, told a press conference.

Takahiro Inagawa, president of Interstellar Technologies, said they have done additional experiments to prepare for the upcoming launch. “We had such a regrettable experience last time, so we have taken some countermeasures like getting advice from experts.”

The start-up first attempted to send the MOMO-1 rocket into space in 2017 but had to abort the launch as contact was lost some 70 seconds after liftoff.

Interstellar Technologies is also developing a larger, two-stage-to-orbit rocket named “ZERO,” which the company aims to launch in 2023 as a means of transportation for ultra-small satellites.

Give it a share: