Oh No No, There Goes Momo

Momo F5 rocket begins to plunge back to Earth. (Credit: Interstellar Technologies webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Interstellar Technologies’ fifth launch of its Momo suborbital rocket went awry on Saturday, with the suborbital booster tumbling out of control just over a minute after lift off from Taiki Aerospace Research Field in Japan.

Video of the flight streamed online showed the rocket suffering what the company has called a failure of attitude control about 1 minute 16 seconds into the flight. The booster pitched over and began plunging toward the ocean.

It was the fifth flight of the booster, which has failed four times. Momo’s lone success came in May 2019 when the rocket reached 113.4 kilometers (70.5 miles), which is above the 100 km (62.1 mile) boundary of space known as the Karman line.

Momo rockets launched in 2017 and 2019 reached only 20 km (12 miles) and 13 km (8.1 miles), respectively, before suffering catastrophic failures.

A Momo launched in June 2018 rose for four seconds before crashing back onto the pad and exploding.