Japanese launch provider Interstellar Technologies suffered its fourth defeat in three years with the failure of its MOMO5 mission. The company was forced to abort the flight less than two minutes after liftoff leaving the rocket to crash into the Pacific.
The MOMO5 sounding rocket was launched from the company’s facility in Hokkaido at 20:15 UTC on Saturday 13 June.
Approximately 30 seconds into the flight, debris was seen falling from the rocket’s engine nozzle prompting concern from ground controllers. Seconds later the engine began firing erratically and the company was forced to abort the mission 70 seconds after liftoff. With no power pushing it skyward, the rocket tumbled towards Earth meeting its demise as it hit the surface of the Pacific 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) offshore.
In a post-launch update, Interstellar Technologies revealed that the rocket had reached an altitude of just 11.5 kilometers (7.1 miles), well short of the company’s goal of 100 kilometers (62 miles).
The MOMO5 launch was Interstellar Technologies’ fourth failure out of a total of five missions launched since July 2017. The company’s only success on May 4, 2019, became the first commercially developed Japanese rocket to reach space.
The Interstellar Technologies flight was one of three launched on Saturday. The day started with the launch of Rocket Lab’s Don’t Stop Me Now mission from New Zealand. SpaceX launched approximately four hours later delivering 58 satellites to orbit aboard a Falcon 9. The launch was the second of three Starlink missions SpaceX hopes to launch in June.