KAGOSHIMA – Japan successfully launched on Saturday the world’s smallest satellite-carrying rocket following a failed attempt in January last year, the nation’s space agency said.
The rocket about the size of a utility pole, measuring 10 meters in length and 50 centimeters in diameter, lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture and delivered its payload to its intended orbit, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The No. 5 vehicle of the SS-520 series carried a microsatellite weighing about 3 kilograms developed by the University of Tokyo to collect imagery of the Earth’s surface.
The launch was aimed at verifying JAXA’s technology used to launch small rockets made with commercially available components at lower cost amid growing global demand for microsatellites. The agency used components found in home electronics and smartphones for the rocket.
JAXA launched the No. 4 vehicle on Jan. 15 last year, but terminated its flight shortly after liftoff due to a communications problem. The agency found that vibrations during liftoff caused a short circuit, leading to a loss of power in the data transmitter.
For Saturday’s launch, the agency made more than 40 improvements to prevent a recurrence.