Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Interstellar Technologies Scrubs MOMO-F3 Launch, Next Attempt Thursday

MOMO-F3 rocket awaiting launch. Credit: IST

Interstellar Technologies Inc. (IST) has scrubbed the launch of its MOMO-F3 sounding rocket planned for Tuesday, April 30, due to an issue of the launch vehicle’s cryogenic valve. The company informed that the next 75-minute launch window opens at 11:15 a.m. JST (2:15 a.m. GMT) on Thursday, May 2.

“IST has overhauled the valve where the issue was found, and confirmed foreign objects were mixed there. The company believes that the contamination happened during the multiple tests and the full dress rehearsal in April,” IST wrote in an email to Astrowatch.net.

The startup added that there were no indications of any problems during the full dress rehearsal before the Tuesday’s launch attempt. However, when the conclusive phase of pre-launch activities started some 11 hours prior to the liftoff, everything went flawlessly till the “go” command was given at the fifth “go/no go” decision. Then, the leak from the valve was detected.

“IST found the cryogenic valve issue at the RCS’s [reaction control system’s] hot gas thruster after they finished filling ethanol and LOX [liquid oxygen],” the company explained.

According to IST, the engineers have already taken measures against the contamination issue and replaced the valve with a new one. 

After fixing the issue, the company initially planned to conduct another launch attempt on Wednesday, May 1, but the poor weather forced them to postpone it by one day. Other backup days are May 3-5.

IST plans to send the MOMO-F3 rocket, to an altitude of at least 100 kilometers, to reach the so-called Karman line - defined as the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space. MOMO-F3 is a 33-feet tall liquid-propellant sounding rocket, weighing some 1.15 metric tons. 

The launch vehicle will lift off from IST’s launch pad in Taiki, Hokkaido. The company will be live streaming this event at Nvs-live.com. What is noteworthy, the voice of the countdown during the live coverage, will be the voice of Japan-made virtual character Hatsune Miku, which is the name of vocaloid/synthesized virtual voice software.

IST’s previous launches were unsuccessful. MOMO-F2 fell to the ground and exploded shortly after its launch on June 30, 2018, while communications with MOMO-F1 were lost about a minute after it had left the pad in July 2017.

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