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: 5 (1 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 to reach 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][11]
  • Fuel: Ethanol with Liquid Oxigen (LOX)
  • Cost: ¥50 million (~$440 thousand) [2]

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.[12][13] The countdown to the launch used the singing synthesizer software Hatsune Miku.[14]
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.[15]
5 14 June 2020 Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan 11.5 km (7.1 mi) Failure
About 35 seconds into flight, sparks were observed near the engine nozzle. About thirty seconds later, the engine failed and the rocket tumbled out of control.

ZERO orbital rocket

The ZERO rocket concept is aimed at orbital launches of smallsats.[16]


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. ^
  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. ^
  12. ^ "Rocket launched by start-up firm reaches outer space for first time". Japan Times. 4 May 2019.
  13. ^ Inagawa, Takahiro (7 May 2019). "Interstellar Technologies Inc. press Release on MOMO F3" (PDF). Interstellar Technologies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 May 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  14. ^ "【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.
  15. ^ "Privately launched Momo-4 rocket fails after liftoff, crashes into sea off Hokkaido". 27 July 2019.
  16. ^ "ZERO". Interstellar Technologies. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  17. ^ Koizumi, Masumi (15 May 2019). "Japanese rocket pioneer Takafumi Horie says his firm Interstellar Technologies could soon take on SpaceX". The Japan Times. Retrieved 16 September 2019.

External links

  • (in Japanese) Official website:
    • (in English)
  • インターステラテクノロジズ(株) channel on YouTube Interstellar Technologies (in Japanese)