A "pencil" rocket, the start of the Japanese scientific rocket development

(Posted on July 7, 2021)












Dr. Hideo Itokawa (1912-1999), at the

University of Tokyo, the father of rocket development in Japan holds a pencil rocket, which is only 230 mm in length and weighs 202 grams.   











Dr. Hideo Itokawa, an aeronautical engineer by education, led a team of researchers at the University of Tokyo and managed to come up with the first rocket appropriately dubbed a pencil rocket; the first launch of which took place in 1955. Rocket development took off from the pencil rockets to bigger Kappa rockets, to larger Lambda rockets, which successfully launched the first satellite called “Ohsumi” in 1970 becoming the fourth country to do so after the USSR, the US and France. The Ohsumi satellite weighed merely 23.8 kg. Because of a limited budget, the Japanese rockets used solid-propellant, and there was no guidance system. This explained the inherent difficulty of pinpointing launch trajectories; in fact, the Ohsumi satellite was the fifth attempt. 




A K(Kappa)-9M rocket was

                                                                         A K(Kappa)-9M rocket a standard scientific

                                                                                     rocket. In all, 81 machines were launched

                                                                                     between 1962 and 1988. The rocket was

                                                                                     11.1 meters long, weighed 1,500 kg, carried

                                                                                     a payload of 100 kg. Standing by is

                                                                                     Dr. Itokawa.














Lambda 9 rocket on a launching pad.

The rocket weighed 9.4 tons and was

16.5 meters long.

(The photo by Momotarou2012)















A replica of the Ohsumi satellite

(The photo by Momotarou2012)

Japan’s space development is now carried out singularly by the Japan

Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). One of JAXA’s important roles is the

operation of a Japanese science module for the International Space station






                                                                         A Japanese science module called

                                                                                     “Kibo,” hope (left), weighing 26 tons

                                                                                      is the largest science module for

                                                                                      the ISS. 

The Koonotori (a stork, on the left) unmanned resupply spacecraft

(9.6 meters long, a max. payload of 6 tons) supplied water, food and

materials for the ISS. The nine Koonotoris were successfully launched by

 H-2A rockets (right) between 2009 and 2020. 



 ( The photo right by NARITA Masahiro)




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