The launch of Japan's first ever privately developed sounding rocket, named Momo, has been delayed owing to fog and bad weather conditions.
Built by Interstellar Technologies, a brainchild of former Livedoor President Takafumi Hori, the Momo rocket was slated to launch from the town of Taiki on July 29. Several dozen people had gathered near the facility to monitor the lift-off, but the aerospace company put off the launch to July 30, Sunday due to poor visibility in the region.
The Momo launch vehicle, which carries a dry mass of 250kg, measures 8.5 metres in height and 50cm in diameter, can deliver 10kg to an altitude of 130km, or 20kg to an altitude of 120km, according to its user guide. The entire flight lasts about 10 minutes depending on the mission profile, and this includes about four minutes of microgravity. Afterward, the payload can be recovered from the ocean.
The small rocket powers up by a relatively moderate liquid-fuelled engine, which uses ethanol for fuel and liquid oxygen as an oxidizer. It has a thrust of 12kN, which is nowhere near what Space X's Falcon 9 rocket has on offer. Elon Musk's famous rocket powers up by nine Merlin 1-D engines, each with a thrust of 845kN.
Still, that's considered a decent start for a space venture that comes without government funding. The cost of Sunday's launch has been estimated to be around ¥50m (£5.65m) for Interstellar, which has been funded by digital content provider DMM.com as well as from a crowdfunding campaign.
The young aerospace company aims to get onto the bandwagon of orbital flights while changing the economics of space launch services by 2020. Its chief executive, Takahiro Inagawa, said this week: "The next main business is launching a satellite. I want to make that step".