On Saturday, June 30th, the MOMO-2 rocket, developed and operated by the Japanese private space company Interstellar Technologies, exploded just seconds after takeoff. That is the second successive failure for Japan’s first private space company, and observers are now wondering whether the Interstellar company really has the means to respect its self-imposed timetable to place a satellite into orbit by 2020.
Interstellar Technologies wants to compete with SpaceX and Blue Origin private space companies
Japanese private sector is struggling to bring out a competitor to the American SpaceX or Blue Origin private space companies but had no success so far. If the governmental Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, can be proud of very promising achievements, comparable to ESA and NASA, such as the recent Hubayasa-2 probe that landed on Ryugu Asteroid, we can’t say the same about the Japanese private space industry.
In order to reach its goal to place a satellite into orbit by 2020, a MOMO rocket has to reach a geostationary orbit, something that now seems to be a too big fish to catch for the Japanese private space industry.
Therefore, the gap between Interstellar Technologies and its MOMO rockets and SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets looks like an impassable abyss.
The Japanese government might cut off funding for MOMO project
In part, the MOMO project is funded by the Japanese government which allocated about 1.8 million US Dollars so far, but it is not sure that the Japanese state will continue to pay if Interstellar Technologies yields no results.
On the other hand, Takafumi Horie, the founder and CEO of Interstellar, has the reputation of being a “predatory” entrepreneur, given the frauds and other illegalities he conducted as the leader of Livedoor Internet service. Takafumi Horie, a very controversial contractor, also served two years in prison for fraud.
The Japanese private space industry does not seem in very good hands right now.