Photo/IllutrationOne of the world’s smallest orbital-class rockets, SS-520 No. 5, is launched from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kimotsuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Feb. 3. (Provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KIMOTSUKI, Kagoshima Prefecture--Soaring to new heights after failing a year ago, Japan’s space agency successfully launched one of the world’s smallest rockets here on Feb. 3.

It also marked the first time the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully launched a rocket using commercially available electronic parts.

The rocket, SS-520 No. 5, 9.5 meters long and weighing 2.6 tons, was constructed at a relatively low cost.

The JAXA had failed to launch its predecessor, SS-520 No. 4, in January 2017.

According to JAXA, SS-520 No. 5 lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center at 2:03 p.m., loaded with an ultra-small satellite weighing about 3 kilograms.

About seven and a half minutes into flight, the satellite, developed by the University of Tokyo, successfully separated from the rocket.

The rocket was based on ones that have been utilized for atmospheric observations and other purposes. JAXA used off-the-shelf parts for the electronic circuits and other components to demonstrate low-cost technologies for launching an ultra-small satellite.

The development and the launch of the SS-520 No. 5 cost about 500 million yen ($4.5 million).

The SS-520 No. 4 was JAXA’s first rocket that used commercially available parts. However, the launch in January 2017 failed as abnormalities occurred in electrical sources due to vibrations and other factors and, as a result, it became impossible for ground teams to receive signals from the rocket.

Because of the failure, JAXA took measures to protect the wiring to prevent vibrations from reaching the electrical circuits.

“As we succeeded in demonstrating the use of commercially available parts, we will be able to utilize this success in the next project,” said Hiroto Habu, a JAXA project manager.