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Thursday, May 2, 2019

MOMO-F3 Rocket Launch Scrubbed Again

MOMO-F3 rocket awaiting launch. Credit: IST

Iffy weather prevented the MOMO-F3 rocket from blasting off on Thursday, May 2, from the launch pad in Taiki, on the island of Hokkaido. Interstellar Technologies Inc. (IST), which developed the rocket, planned to conduct another launch attempt on Friday, May 3 at 11:15 a.m. JST (2:15 a.m. GMT), however it was also cancelled due to weather conditions.

MOMO-F3 was on track for Thursday’s liftoff, but due to strong winds IST decided to halt the pre-launch activities and to delay the test flight by 24 hours.

“Today’s MOMO-F3’s launch attempt was halted due to strong wind. (...) IST has completed filling the ethanol and LOX without any trouble and the vehicle was ready to liftoff,” IST wrote in an email to Astrowatch.net.

It was the second attempt to send the MOMO-F3 sounding rocket into space in recent days. The liftoff was initially planned for Tuesday, April 30, but was scrubbed the due to an issue with the launch vehicle’s cryogenic valve.

The May 3 attempt, during a 75-minute launch window, was also cancelled due to high winds, according to a tweet by IST. The company will most likely try again this week, given that May 4 and 5 are designated as backup dates.

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. 

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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