Interstellar Becomes First Private Japanese Company to Launch Rocket to Space

The third time was the charm for Interstellar Technologies.

On Saturday, the company’s suborbital Momo-3 rocket lifted off from its launch pad in Hokkaido and reached an altitude of 110 km (68.4 miles) before falling into the Pacific Ocean about 10 minutes later, The Japan Times reports.

“It was a complete success. We’ll work to achieve stable launches and mass-produce (rockets) in quick cycles,” company founder Takafumi Horie told The Japan Times.

Measuring 10 meters in length and 50 centimeters in diameter and weighing 1 ton, it was first due to be launched Tuesday, but that launch was shelved due to a glitch in the fuel system.

It was the venture company’s third launch attempt after previous tries failed in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, the operator lost contact with Momo-1 shortly after launch. In 2018, Momo-2 only made it some 20 meters off the ground before crashing and bursting into flames due to a problem with a control system.

The MOMO sounding rocket is designed to carry a payload weighting up to 20 kg (44 lb) on suborbital flights at a cost of approximately ¥50 million (~$450,000).

Interstellar is also developing the ZERO booster to carry payloads weighing up to 100 kg (220.5 lb) to a 500 km (310.7 mile) sun synchronous orbit. The company hopes to conduct ZERO’s first flight test in 2020.