Japan’s space agency is building a tiny rocket to launch its tiny satellite into orbit

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2016, 2:35pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2016, 8:31pm

Japan’s space agency said Tuesday it aims to launch the world’s smallest rocket for putting a satellite into earth orbit.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the rocket will be the size of a telephone pole, and it showed to the media an ultra small satellite that the rocket will carry when launched from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, by the end of next March.

The “TRICOM1” satellite, developed by the University of Tokyo, measures 10cm by 10cm by 35cm - about the size of a loaf of bread - and weights about 3kg. It has two cameras, one on either side, to take pictures of the Earth.

The agency developed the three-stage compact rocket by renovating a two-stage rocket that is currently JAXA’s primary launch vehicle. The new rocket is around 10 metres long, about 50cm in diameter, weighs a mere 2.6tonnes, and can put into orbit a satellite weighing up to 4kg.

“We hope our technologies will be used in a broad manner by private companies trying to develop rockets,” Hiroto Habu, an assistant professor of JAXA, said at a press conference.

The TRICOM1 satellite is expected to operate for about a month before re-entering the earth’s atmosphere and burning up.