Zero, the eco-friendly rocket, to begin testing in Japan

The private space firm, Interstellar Technologies, aims for an orbital launch by 2025.
Rizwan Choudhury
Interstellar Technologies Zero Rocket 3D model.
Interstellar Technologies Zero Rocket 3D model.

Credits: Interstellar Technologies 

Interstellar Technologies, a Japanese startup that has successfully launched three suborbital rockets, is now gearing up for its first orbital mission. The company plans to conduct a static fire test of its Zero rocket later this year, which will be a crucial step towards launching it into orbit by 2025.

Biomethane as rocket-fuel

Coming to the technicalities of the rocket, Zero is a two-stage rocket that uses liquid methane as its propellant, which is cheap and has good performance. It also uses liquid biomethane from cattle manure to contribute to carbon neutrality. Interstellar Technologies plans to offer customers low-cost and flexible launch services with Zero.

Zero, the eco-friendly rocket, to begin testing in Japan
Zero rocket's specifications.

The rocket has a lightweight and strong structure made of aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. The rocket’s engines use a pintle injector, which reduces the number of parts and improves combustion efficiency. The rocket can reach various orbits from low inclination to polar using a gimbal mechanism to control the direction of thrust. The rocket is equipped with computers, sensors, and communication devices for rocket control.

Launches targeting low-Earth orbit

Zero is capable of carrying nearly one tonne of payload to low-Earth orbit. The company says that Zero will cater to the growing demand for small satellite launch services in the global market, especially in Asia and Oceania.

“We think that this rocket will change the market,” Keiji Atsuta, Interstellar’s business development general manager, told SpaceNews.

Zero will be launched from the Hokkaido Spaceport in Japan, which offers flexible launch options to the east or the south. The company says that it will focus on serving the needs of space agencies and universities in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Zero is based on the technology and experience of Interstellar Technologies’ Momo-sounding rocket, the first privately-developed space rocket in Japan, and successfully reached the edge of space in 2019 with a 44-pound (20 kg) payload. Interstellar started as a suborbital launch provider with its Momo rocket, which has reached space three times. The company is also in the process of designing Deca, a more substantial launch vehicle anticipated to take flight during the 2030s.

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