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Japan to try again with world’s smallest satellite-carrying rocket

Kyodo

The space agency will try once again in December to launch the world’s smallest rocket capable of placing a satellite in orbit after the initial attempt failed in January.

The rocket, measuring 10 meters long and 50 cm in diameter, will carry a “micro-mini” satellite weighing about 3 kg developed by the University of Tokyo to collect imagery of the Earth’s surface.

The launch scheduled for Dec. 25 will feature the fifth rocket in the SS-520 series.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is hoping small rockets made with commercially available components at low cost will help fuel the growing global demand for micro-mini satellites.

JAXA used components found in home electronics and smartphones for the rocket, which is about the size of a utility pole.

The three-stage rocket is scheduled to lift off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture between 10 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

JAXA launched the No. 4 vehicle on Jan. 15 but was forced to have it plunge into the sea shortly after liftoff due to a communications problem. The agency determined that vibrations during the liftoff caused a short circuit, leading to loss of power at its data transmitter.

The agency said it has reinforced protection for electric cables used in the No. 5 vehicle to prevent a short circuit. It has also introduced steps to reduce vibrations during the upcoming liftoff.