Hokkaido venture to launch privately developed rocket into space


Interstellar Technologies Inc., a space venture based in Hokkaido, will launch a small rocket developed independently without government funding on July 29.

MOMO, a sounding rocket measuring 10 meters long, will launch from a test site in the town of Taiki and is designed to be the first rocket developed solely by a private Japanese company to reach outer space, the firm told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday.

If successful, the rocket will reach an altitude of 100 km — beyond the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space — about four minutes after launch from a test site in the town where the startup is located. It will then re-enter the atmosphere, where a parachute will deploy to slow its descent, before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

Interstellar Technologies, founded by entrepreneur and former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie, did not reveal the exact cost of launching the rocket, estimated by many industry analysts at less than ¥50 million.

The company hopes a successful launch of MOMO, which weighs a little over 1 ton and has a diameter of about 50 cm, will pave the way for it to commercialize rockets that would put super-small artificial satellites into orbit in the future.

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