Sunday, August 12, 2018

High-Speed Cameras Show MOMO-2 Launch Failure in Unprecedented Detail

MOMO-2 rocket crashes to the ground shortly after its launch on Saturday, June 30. Photo Credit: Interstellar Technologies Inc.

Japanese startup Interstellar Technologies Inc. (IST) has revealed another high-definition videos of the June 30 unsuccessful launch of its MOMO-2 rocket. The new footage, captured by industrial high-speed cameras shows the failure in unprecedented detail.

The 33-foot (10-meter) tall MOMO-2 fell to the ground and exploded shortly after its launch from a test site near the town of Taiki on Japan’s island of Hokkaido. IST recently released a high-definition multi-camera video of the launch and now the company revealed to the public another recording of the failed liftoff - this time shot by high-speed cameras at the rate of 1,000 fps.

Developed by Photron, the FASTCAM cameras were set at two different positions at the launch pad in order to record the whole sequence of the launch from the upper and lower angles (videos are available on Youtube: high-angle shot and low-angle shot). Unexpected fire emerging from the side of the vehicle’s injector is clearly noticed in these super slow videos. Given that the exact cause of the launch failure is still being investigated by IST, the new footage could be much helpful in finding out what triggered the malfunction.

Takahiro Inagawa, IST’s CEO, told Astrowatch.net that verifying those videos from high-speed cams leads to initial assumption that the cause of the failure was in the side jet thruster.

“IST is currently conducting reproduction experiments of the malfunction. Later, IST plans to upload the telemetry and other data found onto GitHub to share the knowledge of cause investigation,” Inagawa added.

The history of IST reaches back to 1997, when a group of space enthusiasts created a hobbyist organization aiming to develop a compact and convenient rocket design as well as to build a prototype engine to power a launch vehicle aloft. The company plans to become the first Japanese company to send a rocket into space.

The MOMO-2 rocket launch was IST’s second test mission that ended in failure. The first rocket developed by the startup, MOMO-1, was launched in July of 2017 but communications with it were lost about a minute after it had left the pad.

Despite two setbacks, the company is currently working toward its next mission—MOMO-3. However, although the exact date of the launch has not been disclosed yet, Inagawa recently revealed that MOMO-3’s flight should be expected within months.

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