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Science

Japan takes leap in international private space race

Startup Interstellar seeks to compete with industry rivals in China and US

The Momo-3 rocket launches from a launch pad in Hokkaido. (Photo courtesy of Interstellar Technologies)
The Momo-3 rocket launches from a launch pad in Hokkaido. (Photo courtesy of Interstellar Technologies)

TOKYO -- Japanese startup Interstellar Technologies' first successful space rocket launch Saturday marked a small step for the country's independent, private-sector led space business but whether it can make a giant leap and compete with American and Chinese companies remains uncertain.

The rocket, an unmanned Momo-3, was launched at about 5:45 a.m. in Hokkaido. The 10-meter, one-ton suborbital rocket reached space at an altitude of 113 km in four minutes before falling into the Pacific Ocean as planned. The craft carried a 20 kg payload that included a device to measure gravitational forces.

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