Interstellar Technologies (IST) has become the first privately funded Japanese company to launch a rocket into space. The mission was the company’s third and follows on the heels of a failure in June last year that saw the rocket fail shortly after liftoff.
The MOMO F3 mission was launched from IST’s launch facility in Taiki, Hokkaido on May 3 at 20:45 UTC (05:45 on May 4 local time). Approximately four minutes later, the single-stage to space sounding rocket passed the Kármán line, the generally accepted boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. It would go on to reach an apogee of 113.4 kilometres (70 miles).
“It was a complete success. We’ll work to achieve stable launches and mass-produce [rockets] in quick cycles,” said Interstellar Technologies founder, Takafumi Horie.
Friday’s successful launch followed two launch aborts. The first scheduled launch window earlier in the week was aborted within 20 minutes of the launch after an issue with the fuel system was discovered. The launch was again aborted during an earlier launch window on Friday before it was finally successfully carried out soon after.
In addition to the MOMO sounding rocket, Interstellar Technologies is developing an orbital-class vehicle. The Zero will be a multi-stage liquid-fueled rocket capable of launching payloads of up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) into low Earth orbits of up to 500 kilometres. The maiden launch of the Zero is currently scheduled for 2020.