Japan just tried to launch the world's smallest orbital rocket

But about 20 seconds into flight, however, JAXA stopped receiving communication from the rocket, so the rest of the launch was aborted.

As a result the rocket and the satellite it was carrying fell back into the ocean, according to an update from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The rocket also had a smooth landing and overall it had three successes, including launch, satellites, and landing.

The 31-foot-tall (9.5 meters) SS-520-4 rocket configuration developed a two-arrange sounding rocket that was equipped for lifting trials to space for a couple of minutes; the expansion of a third stage gives the art a chance to achieve sufficiently high speeds to place objects into space, as per Spaceflight Now. But ignition of the rocket's second stage was cancelled by ground controllers after it stopped sending telemetry data.

Carrying a miniature satellite for observation of the Earth's surface, the No. 4 vehicle of the SS-520 series lifted off at 8:33 a.m. from the agency's Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. After the abort sequence, both the rocket and the satellite plummeted into the sea southeast of the space center, and have not been recovered.

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The rocket was touted as the smallest one capable of launching a satellite, however something obviously went very wrong. It was created to place a satellite weighing up to 4 kg in orbit at an altitude of up to 2,000 km.

"The cause of the failure is not known at all yet", Shinya Matsuura, an expert on JAXA, told The Japan Times.

Length of the rocket was 35 feet, diameter was 50 cm. and it carried 3 kg weight.

While JAXA is the first to have tested out one of these specialized nano-satellite launchers, it is not the only organization developing orbital launch capabilities specifically for microsatellites, especially the popular CubeSat spacecraft platform. It was maiden flight of fourth configuration of SS-520 rocket - smallest launch vehicles in the world.

  • Toni Ryan