Japan's Interstellar Technologies wants to become a bit like the SpaceX of Asia, but the explosive failure of its Momo-2 rocket last week has set back the company's hopes of sending the first privately funded Japanese rocket to space.
The Japan Times reported that hundreds of spectators gathered for the June 30 liftoff on the island of Hokkaido. The launch was supposed to send the one ton rocket to touch the edge of space before its planned fall back down to Earth and into the Pacific Ocean. Instead, after just a few seconds of flight, the rocket's main engine appeared to lose power momentarily; then the spacecraft plummeted back to the launch pad and exploded.
No one was injured.
On Wednesday, Interstellar Technologies released the above video of the rocket's premature fall, showing you the crash from a number of previously unseen angles, including views from onboard cameras.
"Unexpected fire was found around the upper part of the engine immediately after liftoff, which caused some malfunction. The company will continue the investigation of the cause," reads an emailed statement from IST representatives. "The rocket lost its thrust slightly after liftoff, then dropped to the ground and triggered a fire for about two hours."
Following the failed launch, workers from IST, which was founded by controversial internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie, posed with the charred remains of the rocket for a photo that was posted to the company Facebook page.
This is the second straight launch failure for IST. Though the launch of its Momo-1 rocket did go off without a hitch last July, the team lost contact with the craft before it reached space.
So there may still be a long road ahead for commercial spaceflight in Japan, buton its way to success.
IST sponsor Rheos Capital Works said in a statement Tuesday that it's uncertain whether it'll sponsor another launch, but it said it'll continue to support the company.
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