Japan launches world's tiniest satellite-carrying rocket
The rocket about the size of a utility pole, measuring 10 meters in length and 50 centimeters in diameter, lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center in southwestern Japan's Kagoshima Prefecture, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The No. 5 vehicle of the SS-520 series carried a microsatellite weighing about 3 kilograms developed by the University of Tokyo to collect imagery of the Earth's surface.
The launch was aimed at verifying JAXA's technology to send a small rocket made with commercially available components to the sky at lower cost amid growing global demand for microsatellites. The space agency used components found in home electronics and smartphones for the rocket.
JAXA launched the No. 4 vehicle on Jan. 15 last year, but it plunged into the sea shortly after liftoff due to a telecommunication problem. The agency has found that vibrations during liftoff caused a short circuit, leading to loss of power in its data transmitter.
For the No. 5 vehicle launch, the agency made more than 40 improvements to prevent a recurrence. ■