Japan launches smallest rocket ever to carry tiny satellite into orbit

It carried a microsatellite TRICOM-1R, a three-unit CubeSat weighing about 3 kilograms. The satellite was developed by the University of Tokyo to capture images of the Earth’s surface. This satellite launch was a re-flight of the TRICOM-1 mission, which was lost in SS-520’s failure in 2017.

Created On: Feb 5, 2018 10:31 ISTModified On: Feb 5, 2018 10:34 IST
Japan launches smallest rocket ever to carry tiny satellite into orbit

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on February 3, 2018 launched the world’s smallest rocket with the ability to put a tiny satellite into orbit. The rocket lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima prefecture, south-western Japan.

It carried a microsatellite TRICOM-1R, a three-unit CubeSat weighing about 3 kilograms. The satellite was developed by the University of Tokyo to capture images of the Earth’s surface. This satellite launch was a re-flight of the TRICOM-1 mission, which was lost in SS-520’s failure in 2017.

The launch was aimed at testing the ability of JAXA to launch low-cost rockets that can put micro satellites into space at affordable rates.

SS-520 Series Rocket
• The rocket, measuring 10 meters in length, 50 centimetres in diameter and some 2.6 tons in weight, was the smallest satellite-carrying rocket in the world.

• It is No 5 vehicle of the SS-520 series and  improved version of JAXA’s SS—520.

• It is a two-stage vehicle, consisting of an S-520 booster and a smaller second stage.

• It was the SS-520’s fourth flight. It first flew on February 5, 1998, before carrying out an ionospheric research mission from Ny-Alesund, Svalbard in December 2000.

• SS-520 series is based upon the S-520, which has made thirty launches since it was introduced in 1980, the most recent in 2015.

Background
The launch of this micro-satellite carrying rocket came following a failed attempt and several postponements over the last year. It was the first time for the SS-520 series rocket to successfully send a microsatellite into orbit.

JAXA launched No 4 vehicle of the SS-520 series rocket in January 2017, which fell into the sea after launch due to short-circuit caused by vibrations during take-off.

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