Raumfahrt - Privately backed Japanese rocket a fireball soon after launch



The Momo No. 2 rocket develops apparent engine problems almost immediately after its early June 30 launch. (Video footage provided by Interstellar Technologies Inc.)


The failed launch of the Momo No. 2 rocket early June 30 (Nobuhiro Shirai)

  • Photo/Illutration
  • Photo/Illutration

TAIKI, Hokkaido--A start-up backed by Internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie failed for a second time June 30 to launch an inexpensive rocket into outer space.

Momo No. 2 barely lifted off before plummeting back to Earth and erupting in a fireball.

There were no immediate reports of injuries from the failed 5:30 a.m. launch, the second experienced by Interstellar Technologies Inc.

"We have never seen a failure like this," Horie, the well-known founder of Internet company Livedoor Co., told reporters. "We are thinking about what we can do to maintain some tie to the next step even as the future remains barely visible."

Company president Takahiro Inagawa said engine trouble appeared to have been the cause of the problem.

The Momo No. 2 rocket was 10 meters long, 50 centimeters in diameter and weighed 1,150 kilograms.

Company employees at the command center about 600 meters from the launch pad were ordered to evacuate for fear of being caught by falling debris.

The predecessor to Interstellar Techologies was established in 2003 to develop rockets to launch small satellites into space. The company tried to assemble the Momo rocket using readily available electronic parts as a way to cut costs.

It was seeking to become the first Japanese private-sector company to develop its own rocket capable of reaching space.

The first Momo rocket was launched in July 2017, but the engine was shut down after about a minute, when communications were lost. The rocket had reached a height of about 20 kilometers but splashed down into the ocean.

The Momo No. 2 rocket was initially scheduled for an April launch, but that had to be postponed as nitrogen gas was found to be leaking.

Quelle: The Asahi Shimbun


Privately developed Japanese rocket fails shortly after liftoff












Quelle: Kyodo News

Privately developed Japanese rocket fails shortly after liftoff


KUSHIRO, Japan (Kyodo) -- The launch of what would have been Japan's first privately developed rocket to reach outer space failed Saturday, as the rocket crashed to the ground and burst into flames seconds after liftoff, its developer said.

Officials of Interstellar Technologies Inc., founded in 2013 by former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie, said the rocket, MOMO-2, lost thrust shortly after liftoff at around 5:30 a.m. from a test site in the town of Taiki on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido.

No injuries were reported in the explosion of the unmanned rocket, which was about 10 meters long, 50 centimeters in diameter and weighed 1 ton.

This is the second launch failure in a row for Interstellar Technologies. Last July, it attempted to send the MOMO-1 into space to an altitude of over 100 kilometers, but had to abort the launch after contact was lost some 70 seconds into the flight.

The latest failure suggests that a difficult road lies ahead for privately developed rockets. People involved in the project expressed shock and dismay.

"I could not immediately understand what happened," Interstellar Technologies President Takahiro Inagawa told a press conference, while venture founder Horie called it "an unprecedented failure."

"We could not accomplish what we were expected to do. I feel sorry for that," Inagawa said.

While noting that nothing has been decided regarding another launch, he said, "I feel that I would like to keep giving it a shot."

Horie also showed willingness to make another attempt, saying, "We have to find ways to improve" ahead of the launch of a third rocket.

According to Inagawa, the rocket lost thrust four seconds after liftoff, with the main engine believed to have encountered a problem.

The company plans to analyze the launch data for answers as to what went wrong.

"Since the first rocket flew to some extent, the latest failure right after liftoff was unexpected," an official of the space venture said.

The cost of the launch ran into the tens of millions of yen. The space venture raised about 28.4 million yen ($257,000) through crowd-founding.

MOMO-2, which did not carry a satellite, was scheduled to fall into the sea after reaching outer space. Equipment developed by Kochi University of Technology to gauge how sound waves propagate at high altitude was installed in its nose.

The launch of MOMO-2 was originally planned for late April but was pushed back due to a nitrogen gas leak.

MOMO-2 used ethanol, liquid oxygen and helium for fuel.

About 600 people who had gathered to observe the launch in the Hokkaido town watched as the rocket fell from the sky in flames.

Hachikiyo Takahashi, 76, a resident of Otofuke town, said he was disappointed as he thought the launch would succeed since the weather was good. "I hope they do well next time."

Hideaki Kanai, the 61-year-old father of an employee of the venture, said the space project "has yet to reach even the starting point."

Quelle: The Mainichi







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