A private firm in Japan has launched its first rocket into space. The Japanese startup launched the unmanned Momo-3 from its test site in Hokkaido.

The private company successfully launched its small rocket on Saturday. Therefore, making it the first commercially developed Japanese rocket to reach orbit.

About 1,000 people gathered to watch the liftoff.

Japanese aerospace startup Interstellar Technology said its 10-meter (32-foot) craft reached an altitude of about 100 kilometers (60 miles) before splashing down into the Pacific Ocean. The company launched the rocket from its test site in the town of Taiki on Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido. The rocket flew about 10 minutes.

The private rocket measures 10 meters in length and 50 centimeters in diameter and weighs 1 ton. It can carry payloads as heavy as 20 kilograms (44 pounds) but currently lacks an ability to send them into orbit.

The company first scheduled the launch for Tuesday. But they had to call it off at the last minute due to a glitch in the fuel system.

However, the successful flight came after two failed launches by the same company in 2017 and 2018.

“We proved that our rocket developed with a lot of commercially available parts is capable of reaching the space,” Interstellar Technologies CEO Takahiro Inagawa told a news conference from Hokkaido.

Takafumi Horie founded the company in 2013 with the aim of developing cheap commercial rockets to carry satellites into space.

“I’m hoping that many manufacturers and satellite makers will come here to join us,” Horie said.

The production of cheap rockets has become a growing trend in the space business. The US companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX, are currently leading the field.

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