© Kyodo/via REUTERS

TASS-FILE. 3 February 2018 Japan, launched from the Space center Uchinoura rocket SS-520 with an experimental satellite TRICOM-1R. Earlier start was planned for December 2017, but then was postponed.

SS-520 – Japanese solid-propellant meteorological rocket, adapted for space launches.

Belongs to the family of sounding rockets developed by Japan since the 1950-ies. Sounding rockets used by the Japanese aerospace exploration Agency (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA,) for conducting various scientific researches in upper atmosphere and space experiments during ballistic flight to an altitude of 100 km to 1000 km. In particular, they practiced technology , which are then used in space technology.

Project history

Work on the rocket SS-520 started in the 1990-ies and conducted by the Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics (Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, ISAS), which, since 2003, is a subdivision of JAXA.

Currently operated sounding rocket S-310 (able to reach a height of 150 km, was first launched in 1975), S-520 (300 km, 1980), and SS-520 (800 km, 1998). S-310 and S-520 are single-stage missiles. The rocket SS-520 is a two – step, as a first stage it uses an accelerator from the S-520.

In early August of 2016, Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported that JAXA plans to start the run in space small satellites using a converted meteorological rocket. For these purposes we have selected SS-520, to which was added a third stage. The three-stage SS-520 will develop technologies create ultra-light rocket.

Through the use of public batteries and other components are managed to minimize the development cost of the rocket and its launch. The total expenditure on the SS-520 do not exceed $3.6 million United States (400 million yen).


Basic two-stage rocket SS-520 has a length of 9.65 m, diameter – 52 cm weight – 2,6 t

The estimated capacity of 140 kg to a height of 800 km.

Statistics of spins and incidents

The first test launch of a sounding rocket SS-520 was on 5 February 1998 from the Space center Uchinoura, located on the southern coast of Kyushu island in Kagoshima Prefecture, the rocket, the probe reached an altitude of 750 km during the second run, which was made December 4, 2000 c Norwegian satellite station Svalsat (Svalbard in the Arctic ocean), the highest point of the flight of the SS-520 amounted to 1040 km.

First run adapted for space launches SS-520, on 15 January, 2017 02:33 GMT from the Space center Uchinoura, failed. 20 seconds after liftoff the rocket has ceased to transmit telemetry to the control center. In the end the mission was suspended, and SS-520, along with a companion TRICOM1 fell into the sea of Japan. JAXA experts came to the conclusion that due to lack in design protect electrical cables are not ignited the fuel in the second stage of the rocket.

Just to February 3, 2018, implemented in three starts SS-520. Two of them – the basic meteorcity, which were successful and one (failed) – space version of the SS-520.