Spaceflight Insider

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.

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 a high-definition video 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 attempt 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 upper and lower angles (the 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 visable 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 very helpful in finding out what caused the accident to take place.

Takahiro Inagawa, IST’s CEO, told that the video acquired from these high-speed cameras led 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 aimed at developing a compact and convenient rocket design as well as to build a prototype rocket engine. The company plans to become the first Japanese commercial company to send a rocket into space.

The MOMO-2 rocket launch was IST’s second test flight 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 these two setbacks, the company is currently working toward its next mission—MOMO-3. Although the exact date of the launch has not been disclosed, Inagawa recently revealed that MOMO-3’s flight should be expected within months.

Video courtesy Interstellar Technologies Inc.





Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

Reader Comments

The low angle shot is amazing. Something certainly went wrong with that side thuster. Finally melted through something to cause the chamber to lose pressure and fuel mixture. Fire is outside the main thruster on the fall.

Beautiful footage, sad end. But they will be back.

Wow, amazing footage and amazing that the camera survived that much heat. I am sure the Japanese Space Agency will discover the fault and fix it in record time thanks to this recording.

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