• Kyodo


The launch of a small rocket privately developed by a Hokkaido-based space venture was delayed by fog Saturday and pushed back to Sunday, the company said.

Interstellar Technologies Inc., founded by former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie, plans to make its 10-meter sounding rocket, called Momo, Japan’s first privately developed rocket to reach outer space.

Interstellar wants Momo to pave the way for a commercial microsatellite launching service. The rocket weighs a little over 1 ton and has a diameter of around 50 cm.

The company plans for the rocket to launch from the town of Taiki early Sunday and reach an altitude of 100 km (60 miles) — beyond Earth’s atmosphere — about four minutes later. It will then descend by parachute into the Pacific Ocean about 50 km offshore.

Several dozen people had gathered Saturday morning at a venue about 1.5 km away from the launch site to monitor the liftoff.

“I hope a successful launch will help revitalize the Hokkaido economy,” said Masafumi Fujita, 61, who came from Sapporo.

To develop a rocket without government funding, the company cut production costs by making some parts on its own and outsourced items such as semiconductors and screws.

The cost of the launch is estimated at around ¥50 million. The company received funding from its sponsor, digital content provider DMM.com, as well as from a crowdfunding campaign.

Interstellar Technologies was founded in 2013 and has 14 employees.

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