1997, a bunch of space enthusiasts gathered
to chat about the possibility of
microsats using an ultra lightweight rocket.
They came up with a pencil rocket capable of delivering
a few dozen grams into LEO, using a launch vehicle weighing under 1 ton.
The “chat” started to take shape in an apartment room.
At first firing tests were conducted inside bathtubs
then, Akabira, Hokkaido,
then, Taiki Hokkaido,
Now, the dream is about to become reality
Space enthusiasts gather to create “Natsu-no Rocket-dan”, comprising of a handful of engineers, Journalists, and writers.
The enthusiasts join with a media production company, SNS Inc., to start working on a conceptual rocket engine.
Design and testing begins in Chiba, Japan.
Firing test of the first 300N (66lbs) thrust Ethanol-LOx fueled engine.
SNS Inc. moves to Akabira, Hokkaido to start work on larger engines.
A technology demonstrator for flight testing, producing 1kN of thrust is ready.
March: First test flight nicknamed “Haruichiban” is successfully launched in Taiki, Hokkaido.
July: Second test flight “Natsumatsuri” is successfully launched.
December: Third test flight “Yukiakari” is successfully launched.
July: Airframe technology demonstrator “Ichigo” is launched. Engine upgraded to 2000N.
January: SNS Inc. decides to separate it’s research department. Interstellar Technologies Inc. (IST) is born.
March: First launch of the 5000N engine demonstrator “Hinamatsuri” ends in failure.
August: Second launch “Suzukaze” is successfully completed, reaching an altitude of 6km.
November: First commercial launch order for sounding rocket”Pocky”, is received from Ezaki Glico company for entertainment purposes.
Initial development of key technologies for the commercial sounding rocket “MOMO”, begins.
August: Engine test facilities are installed in Taiki. The first attitude control testbed “BLOCK1” is tested successfully.
December: Attitude control flight testbed “HOP” is tested successfully.
March: Research on gas generator and turbopump started.
June: IST awarded R&D contract from Ministry of Economy for several rocket engine key component technologies.
July: First flight test of “LEAP”,IST’s thrust vectoring testbed ,is completed.
September: Second flight test of “LEAP2” is completed.
January: Development of pressure-fed, Ethanol-LOx engine producing 12kN (2700lbf) of thrust to power the sub-orbital vehicle “MOMO”,
IST is awarded R&D contract from the University of Tokyo for pintle fuel injector.
March: First firing of sub-orbital engine is successfully completed, achieving 10kN (2250lbs) of thrust.
Development of orbital rocket “ZERO” using Kerosene -LOx gas generator cycle is started.
May: Third flight test of “LEAP3”.
July: Fourth and final flight test of “LEAP4”.
Engine testing is accelerated to achieve full thrust capacity.
IST begins to collect funds
for the first launch of “MOMO”,
to become the first privately funded company in Japan to launch a
rocket exceeding an apogee of 100km.
December: Main engine achieves 12kN of sustained thrust for 80s.
January: Thrust vectoring testing with 12kN engine is successfully completed.
July: First launch of sounding rocket”MOMO” ends in partial success.
Vehicle suffers structural failure around altitude of 20km and fails to reach target trajectory.
April: Development of upgraded sounding rocket “MOMO2” is completed.
“MOMO2” is ready for service featuring updated structural
design, hot gas roll thrusters, and payload capacity of 20kg.
June: First launch of “MOMO2” carrying infrasound sensing equipment for Kochi Institute of Technology ends in a spectacular fire ball.
July: Cause analysis of “MOMO2” is underway.
Development of upgraded “MOMO3” is started.
May: The launch of “MOMO3” was carried out. It flew to an altitude of 113.4 km and we became the first Japanese private company to reach space.