Japan’s hopes for a thriving private spaceflight industry have been dashed once again. Interstellar Technologies’ second attempt at a rocket launch has ended in spectacular fashion, with its 33-foot MOMO-2 vehicle crashing (and bursting into flames) just moments after liftoff. The company put on a brave face with word that the launch facility remained intact and a promise that it would continue the program, but it’s hard to be optimistic when the 2017 launch at least cleared the launchpad area.
Interstellar has yet to indicate what might have caused the crash besides a sudden lack of thrust, that is. However, this doesn’t speak well of the company’s strategy so far, which has relied on using existing parts where possible instead of designing everything from scratch. It promises to dramatically reduce the cost of flights, the original MOMO cost $440,000 versus the government’s $1.8 million or more, but that only holds true if it works.