Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully launched a flock of seven satellites aboard an Epsilon rocket. In addition to the mission’s primary payload, the launch deployed the ALE-1, an artificial meteor generator developed by Astro Live.
The three-stage Epsilon rocket blasted off from the Uchinoura Space Centre at 00:50 UTC (9:50 local time) this morning. Approximately 50 minutes after blasting off, the rocket’s upper stage deployed the mission’s primary payload, the Rapid Innovation Payload Demonstration Satellite 1 (RAPIS-1). Once the RAPIS-1 had been successfully deployed, the additional 6 payloads aboard separated from the rocket.
The RAPIS-1 was developed by JAXA with assistance from the smallsat developer, Axelspace. The satellite’s primary payload is a next-generation solar array. The array measures approximately 2 by 3 meters and is made up of five lightweight solar panels.
In addition to the RAPIS-1, the Epsilon-4 flight deployed the MicroDragon, RISESAT, ALE-1, OrigamiSat-1, Aoba VELOX-IV and NEXUS. The ALE-1 is a smallsat developed by Japanese company, Astro Live to create an artificial meteor shower. To achieve this, the satellite will eject small pellets (approximately 1 centimeter/0.4 inches) over a designated area. The pellets will burn up in the atmosphere putting on a show for anyone watching the sky.
This morning’s launch was the fourth successful mission of the low-cost solid-fueled Epsilon rocket. Although there are currently no future Epsilon launches planned, it is likely that the small launch vehicle will be a mainstay of JAXA’s efforts moving forward.