National / Science & Health

Top official hopeful Japan's space activities will take off after observation rocket success

JIJI

Takuya Hirai, minister for space policy, expressed hope Tuesday over the expansion of the country’s space activities following the successful liftoff of a small observation rocket by a startup.

“It was good that the third time was the charm” for the rocket, Momo-3, whose successful blastoff came after the launches of its two preceding models ended in failure, Hirai told a news conference.

“The creation of a business of launching small, low-cost rockets by private-sector companies will help upgrade and vitalize Japan’s space activities as a whole,” he added.

Hirai also said the government will support the activities of space venture companies as much as it can.

On Saturday, Interstellar Technologies Inc., based in Taiki, Hokkaido, launched Momo-3 in the first successful liftoff of a rocket developed single-handedly by a private-sector company in Japan. The single-stage rocket, which is 10 meters in height and 50 centimeters in diameter, uses ethanol as fuel.