Interstellar Technologies


Coordinates: 42°28′30″N 143°22′35″E / 42.47500°N 143.37639°E / 42.47500; 143.37639

Interstellar Technologies, Inc. (Japanese: インターステラテクノロジズ(株), Hepburn: Intāsutera Tekunorojizu (kabu)) is a Japanese NewSpace company aiming to eventually build a launch vehicle for smallsats under 100 kg. It is a rocket spacelaunch company developing the MOMO[clarification needed] (also Momo, etc.) launcher. Interstellar's stated goal is to reduce the cost of access to space.[1]

In 2017, it became the first Japanese company to launch a privately-developed space rocket, though the launch was unsuccessful. A subsequent test in 2019 was successful at taking a 20 kg payload on a suborbital trajectory to the edge of space. As of 2017, the company planned to develop a rocket by 2020 that would be capable of launching small satellites into orbit.[2] As of 2018, the president is Takahiro Inagawa.[3]

As of June 2018, the company had raised about ¥30 million (about US$250,000) in crowdfunding.[4]


The group that became Interstellar Technologies was created as a hobbyist organization in 1997.[5] Interstellar Technologies predecessor company was established in 2003 by Takafumi Horie, who previously founded the ISP Livedoor. It was established to develop rockets to launch small satellites. It became Interstellar Technologies in 2005 (some sources name the year 2013 as the founding year of Interstellar Technologies[6]). Interstellar plans to lower the cost of access to space,[1][3][7] and is attempting to have the first privately developed rocket in Japan to reach space.[4]

In March 2018, Interstellar entered into a business alliance with Nippon Travel Agency and Space Development Corp.[8] In May 2018, Interstellar received an investment of ¥19.8 million from Kushiro Manufacturing.[8]


MOMO sounding rocket

The initial rocket the company is developing is the MOMO sounding rocket:

  • First launch: 30 July 2017 (failure)
  • First successful launch: 3 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Launch attempts: 7 (3 successful)
  • Height: 10 m (33 ft) [1][3][4]
  • Diameter: 50 cm (20 in) [4]
  • Mass: 1 tonne (0.98 long tons; 1.1 short tons)[4]
  • Apogee: 100 km (62 mi), capable of reaching the Karman line or the boundary of space.[1][2][3][4]
  • Payload to Karman line: 20 kg (44 lb) [9]
  • Engine: Custom Helium Pressure-fed engine with 12 kilonewtons of thrust [10]
  • Fuel: Ethanol with Liquid Oxygen (LOX)
  • Cost: ¥50 million (~$440 thousand) [2]


In response to the problems encountered in the engine nozzle and ignitor during the fifth launch and in the first attempt of the sixth launch (June and July 2020 respectively) Interstellar Technology began development of a full system upgrade.[11] During a video conference on June 1st 2021 they announced the end of the upgrading process that focused on engine system, airframe equipment, avionics, and ground support equipment [12] resulting in new nozzles, new ignitors, an increase in dry mass by 40 kg, in propellant mass by 30 kg, in length by 0.2 m and in thrust by 2 kN.[13] Due to the heavy modifications performed the company started referring to the previous version of the rocket as MOMO v0, while the upgraded one is now being called MOMO v1.[12]

MOMO flight testing

The flight test program began in mid-2017:

Flight No. Date (UTC) Launch site Suborbital apogee or achieved altitude Outcome
1 30 July 2017 Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan 20 km (12 mi) Failure
Rocket failed after launch. Contact was lost 66 seconds after launch, triggering an emergency engine shutdown. The rocket reached an altitude of 20 km (12 mi). This represented the first privately funded space rocket to be launched in Japan. The launch cost about ¥50 million (US$440,000).[1][2][3][4]
2 30 June 2018 Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan Failure
Four seconds after liftoff, the rocket came crashing back down onto the pad, exploding violently.[3][4][7]
3 04 May 2019 Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan 113.4 km (70.5 mi) Success
The first commercially developed Japanese rocket to reach the Kármán line, the internationally recognized edge of space. The rocket landed in the sea.[14][15] The countdown to the launch used the singing synthesizer software Hatsune Miku.[16]
4 27 July 2019 Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan 13 km (8.1 mi) Failure
Failed (onboard computer detected a problem and shut down the engine early) shortly after liftoff. The rocket reached altitude of 13 km and fell into sea 9 km offshore. The rocket carried some experiments, for example a heat-resistant paper plane to be released from space, and a low-frequency sound sensor developed by Kochi University of Technology to observe sound created by lightning, typhoons and volcanic eruptions.[17]
5 14 June 2020 Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan 11.5 km (7.1 mi) Failure
About 35 seconds into flight, shortly after reaching max-Q, sparks were observed near the engine nozzle. About thirty seconds later, ground controllers issued an abort command which caused the rocket to tumble and fall into the ocean.[18][19]
6 3 July 2021 Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan 99 km (62 mi) Success
First flight of the improved version MOMO v1.[11] It reached an apogee of 99 km and landed in the sea 10 minutes after liftoff.[20] The rocket was named Screw Rocket by the main sponsor of the launch, Sunco Industries Co., and carried an infrasound sensor from the Kochi University of Technology.[21] A single rose from Hana-Cupid was also launched on this flight.[22] Despite the MOMO unit's number, this was the sixth flight of the sounding rocket.[23]
7 31 July 2021[24] Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan[24] 92.3 km (57.4 mi) Success
Second flight of the improved version MOMO v1. Despite the MOMO unit's number, this is the seventh flight of the sounding rocket. The company aims to reach space for the third time.[25] Featuring a special, red paint job as well as the slogan "Love and Freedom and TENGA" painted on the side, the rocket was named TENGA Rocket after the sponsor, sex toy manufacturer Tenga Co., Ltd., which is also the first ever single sponsor received by Interstellar Technologies.[26] It will be carrying out payload release and recovery mission, the first time for private entities in Japan. A special masturbator outfitted with sensors will be launched along the rocket, aiding development of TENGA's namesake series development for use in space.[26]

ZERO orbital rocket

The ZERO rocket concept is aimed at orbital launches of smallsats.[27]

  • First launch: 2023 (estimated)[28]
  • Payload to 500 km (310 mi) Sun-Synchronous Orbit: 100 kg (220 lb)
  • Fuel: Liquid methane (Liquefied natural gas, LNG)[28]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Darrell Etherington (31 July 2017). "Japan's potential SpaceX competitor achieves mixed results in first launch". Tech Crunch.
  2. ^ a b c d Naomi Schanen (30 July 2017). "Japan Attempts First Rocket Launch to Join SpaceX". Bloomberg.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Global News (30 June 2018). "Rocket fails, explodes seconds after launch for Japanese startup". Global TV (Canada). The Canadian Press (CP).
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Interstellar Technology's second rocket crashes seconds after liftoff in Hokkaido". Japan Times. 30 June 2018.
  5. ^ Eric Berger (26 July 2017). "Japanese company preparing for country's first private rocket launch". Ars Technica.
  6. ^ "Privately launched Momo-4 rocket fails after liftoff, crashes into sea off Hokkaido". The Japan Times. July 27, 2019.
  7. ^ a b SHOTARO HAMADA (30 June 2018). "Privately backed Japanese rocket a fireball soon after launch". Asahi Shimbun.
  8. ^ a b Warwick, Graham (July 3, 2018). "Second Setback For Japanese Rocket Startup". Aviation Week.
  9. ^ "MOMO". Interstellar Technologies Inc. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b "Interstellar Technologies To Launch their Coming Sounding Rocket "Rocket of NEJI" on July 3" (Press release). Interstellar Technologies. 1 July 2021. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  12. ^ a b "[Press Release] Completely improved "Screw Rocket"" (Press release). Interstellar Technologies. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  13. ^ 2021年6月1日(火)13時〜 ねじのロケット開発状況に関する会見 [June 1, 2021 (Tuesday) 13: 00-Interview on the development status of screw rockets] (in Japanese). Interstellar Technologies. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Rocket launched by start-up firm reaches outer space for first time". Japan Times. 4 May 2019.
  15. ^ Inagawa, Takahiro (7 May 2019). "Interstellar Technologies Inc. press Release on MOMO F3" (PDF). Interstellar Technologies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  16. ^ "【その他(お知らせ)】「MOMO3号機」の打上げ実験日時が決定!応援内容のおさらいも!" (in Japanese). Crypton Future Media. April 23, 2019. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  17. ^ "Privately launched Momo-4 rocket fails after liftoff, crashes into sea off Hokkaido". 27 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Interstellar Technologies' privately developed MOMO-5 rocket falls short of reaching space".
  19. ^ June 2020, Tariq Malik 14. "Japan's Interstellar Technologies fails to reach space with private rocket launch".
  20. ^ インターステラテクノロジズ/なつのロケット団 [@natsuroke] (3 July 2021). "\速報/ねじのロケットの打上げは正常に実施されました" [\ Breaking news / The launch of the Screw Rocket was successful] (Tweet) (in Japanese) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ Matsumura, Takehiro (3 July 2021). "IST「ねじのロケット」打ち上げ実施、2019年以来2度目の宇宙空間到達に成功!" [IST launches "Screw Rocket", succeeds in reaching outer space for the second time since 2019!]. sorae (in Japanese). Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  22. ^ "観測ロケットMOMO「ねじのロケット」打ち上げ成功! 花キューピットは宇宙までお花をお届けしました" [MOMO sounding rocket "Screw Rocket" launched successfully! Hana-Cupid has delivered flowers to space]. PR TIMES (in Japanese). 3 July 2021. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  23. ^ Jones, Caleb. "MOMO | Flight 7". Space Launch Now. Retrieved 2021-07-25.
  24. ^ a b "【プレスリリース】「TENGAロケット」打上げを2021年7月31日(土)に実施". インターステラテクノロジズ株式会社 – Interstellar Technologies Inc. (in Japanese). Retrieved 2021-07-31.
  25. ^ Jones, Caleb. "MOMO | Flight 6". Space Launch Now. Retrieved 2021-07-25.
  26. ^ a b "Interstellar Technologies to launch TENGA Rocket on July 31 2021" (PDF). インターステラテクノロジズ株式会社 – Interstellar Technologies Inc. Retrieved 2021-07-31.
  27. ^ "ZERO". Interstellar Technologies. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  28. ^ a b Yamanaka, Hirofumi; Kugai, Shoko (27 May 2020). "LNG-powered rocket offers boost to Japan's private space industry". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 30 April 2021.

External links

  • (in Japanese) Official website: インターステラテクノロジズ株式会社 - Interstellar Technologies Inc.
    • (in English) インターステラテクノロジズ株式会社 - Interstellar Technologies Inc.
  • インターステラテクノロジズ(株) channel on YouTube Interstellar Technologies (in Japanese)