Japanese private firm sends first rocket into space | News | DW | 04.05.2019
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Japanese private firm sends first rocket into space

An aerospace startup in Japan has successfully launched a rocket into space. It's the first privately developed Japanese spacecraft to reach orbit.

The unmanned rocket named MOMO-3 took off Saturday from a test site in Taiki on the northern Japanese island of Hokkiado.

Japanese aerospace startup Interstellar Technology said its 10-meter (32-foot) craft reached an altitude of about 100 kilometers (60 miles) before splashing down into the Pacific Ocean.

The successful flight lasted about 10 minutes, and came after two failed launches by the same company in 2017 and 2018.

"We proved that our rocket developed with a lot of commercially available parts is capable of reaching space," Interstellar Technology CEO Takahiro Inagawa told a news conference in Hokkaido.

The company said the feat marked the first time a Japanese commercial rocket has been launched into space.

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The MOMO-3 rocket takes off from a test site in Taiki

The MOMO-3 rocket is only 50 centimeters wide and 10 meters long

The MOMO-3 rocket weighs about 1.15 metric tons and is capable of carrying payloads of up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) — although it cannot yet send them into orbit.

The Japanese firm is working to develop cheap commercial rockets that can carry small satellites into space. The production of such low-cost craft has become a growing trend in the space business, with US companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX, leading the field.

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nm/rc (AP, dpa)

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