KUSHIRO, HOKKAIDO – A Hokkaido-based aerospace startup said Thursday it will launch its fourth privately developed small rocket next week, following the success of its predecessor in May.
Interstellar Technologies Inc. said Momo-4 will be launched from the company’s test site in Taiki, Hokkaido, on July 13. Four alternative July dates have been set in the event of inclement weather or other issues.
The rocket will be the same model as Momo-3, the country’s first privately developed model to reach outer space, measuring about 10 meters in length, 50 centimeters in diameter and weighing 1 ton.
“I want to build on our success to explore commercial prospects,” said Takahiro Inagawa, the company’s 32-year-old president.
After failed attempts in 2017 and 2018, the startup finally found success with its third launch in May, with the rocket reaching an altitude of around 113 kilometers (about 70 miles) before falling into the Pacific Ocean.
The Momo-4 rocket will carry a research device developed by Kochi University of Technology and release a paper plane in space as part of an experiment proposed by Castem Co., a precision parts manufacturer based in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, that provided some of the funding for the project.
“Carrying items (to space) was the original job of a rocket. By making it possible for people’s ideas and dreams to reach space, I hope to awaken all sorts of business opportunities,” Inagawa said.
Founded in 2013 by former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie, Interstellar Technologies aims to develop low-cost commercial rockets to carry satellites to space.