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Feb. 3, 2018
Image above: The SS-520-5 rocket lifts off Saturday from the Uchinoura Space Center with the TRICOM 1R satellite.
A modified sounding rocket originally designed to loft science instruments on high-altitude suborbital arcs blasted off Saturday from the Uchinoura Space Center in southern Japan and soared into orbit to become the world’s smallest satellite launcher.
The SS-520-5 rocket lifted off at 0503 GMT (12:03 a.m. EST; 2:03 p.m. Japan Standard Time), the opening of a 10-minute window. It released a small satellite into orbit seven-and-a-half minutes later, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which declared the launch a success.
SS-520 No. 5 launches TRICOM-1R
A live webcast of the launch provided by JAXA experienced technical difficulties, but it briefly showed the SS-520-5 launcher soaring into a clear afternoon sky.
Standing just 31 feet (9.5 meters) tall and spanning around 20 inches (52 centimeters) in diameter, the SS-520-5 rocket was modest by launcher standards. With Saturday’s successful flight, the solid-fueled booster became the smallest rocket to ever put an object in orbit around Earth.
TRICOM 1R satellite overview
A student-built shoebox-sized CubeSat named TRICOM 1R — weighing in at about 10 pounds (3 kilograms) — was mounted on top of the SS-520-5 rocket for liftoff from the Uchinoura Space Center in Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture.
The SS-520-5 rocket headed east from Uchinoura over the Pacific Ocean with the TRICOM 1R payload.
For more information about JAXA, visit: http://global.jaxa.jp/
Images, Video, Text, Credits: JAXA/SpaceFlight Now.com/Stephen Clark.