Japan’s Small Experimental Rocket Fails to Launch Tiny Satellite

The mini-rocket SS-520 carrying a mini satellite for observation of the Earth’s surface is launched from the Uchinoura Space Center in Japan’s southwestern Kagoshima Prefecture, Jan. 15, 2017.The first flight of a tiny experimental Japanese rocket, touted as the world’s smallest booster created to launch a satellite in orbit, failed Sunday (Jan. 15), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency officials said. The engine of the second stage of the rocket reportedly failed.The rocket lifted off successfully at 8:33 am Japan time and was on a normal flight path. The craft then plunged into the ocean southeast of JAXA’s Uchinoura Space Center, on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s 4 main islands.About the size of a utility pole – 10 meters long and 50 centimeters in diameter – the rocket has been developed as a possible vehicle for launching minisatellites, a growing segment of the space business worldwide.It was created to place a satellite weighing up to 4 kilograms in orbit at altitudes of up to 2,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.But officials aborted the mission within minutes of takeoff after the space agency stopped receiving data from the rocket after the launch.The total cost of developing and launching both of the rocket and satellite is only around 500 million yen (4.37 million USA dollars), much lower than that of launching other JAXA satellites.The No. 4 vehicle was carrying the TRICOM1 satellite, developed by the University of Tokyo, measuring 10 x 10 x 35 cm and weighing around 3 kg.