An uncrewed Japanese rocket has crashed only seconds after launch. The MOMO-2 rocket burst into flames shortly after take-off on June 30.
Luckily there were no injuries caused by the short-lived flight. The unfortunate rocket was developed by Japanese start-up company Interstellar Technologies.
The company aims to design and develop small, lightweight, and low-cost rockets that can send satellites into space. This disastrous flight was the second take-off for the company, its first flight was a partial success in that the MOMO did manage to leave the launch pad but communications with it were lost about a minute after it had lifted off.
Second rocket crash for new company
The rocket's booster only managed to reach an altitude of about 12 miles (20 kilometers) before it splashed down into the Pacific Ocean. A video of the 10-meter high rocket launching then crashing is a combination of tragedy and comedy, however, the company won’t be put off saying they are on track to put a satellite into low Earth orbit by 2020.
Interstellar Technologies wants to be able to offer satellite launches for as little as US$440,000 compared to the price the Japanese government offers of US$1.8 million minimum. While it's an ambitious and exciting goal, the fledgling company will need to go some way before it can convince investors it can safely deliver payloads to space.
The crash is another blow for the company's founder, Takafumi Horie, who has become infamous in Japan for spending more than two years in prison for accounting fraud. According to the Asahi Shimbun, Horie told reporters the crash was unexpected. "We have never seen a failure like this," he said, "We are thinking about what we can do to maintain some tie to the next step even as the future remains barely visible."
Rocket company quick to see the good side
The company was quick to spot the positive in the disastrous launch saying that there was only minor damage to the launch facilities. "We could not accomplish what we were expected to do. I feel sorry for that," said Takahiro Inagawa, the company's president.
"I feel that I would like to keep giving it a shot." The company hasn’t released any dates for further launches, but it seems it will take more than one rockets fiery exit to hamper their plans.
Rocket launch delayed after leak
The MOMO-2 rocket was initially scheduled to launch in April of 2018, but the company postponed its launch after a nitrogen gas leak was found by engineers.
IST was founded in 1997 by a group of space enthusiasts who wanted to create a hobby organization dedicated to developing a rocket design and engine prototype.