Japan's private rocket reaches outer space for first time

TOKYO — A Japanese aerospace startup funded by a former internet maverick has successfully launched a small rocket into space.

Interstellar Technology Inc. says the unmanned MOMO-3 rocket has exceeded 100 kilometers (60 miles) in altitude before falling into the Pacific Ocean.

The company says it proves that a rocket using mostly commercial parts can reach the space.

The rocket, about 10 meters (32 feet) long and 50 centimeters (1.5 feet) in diameter, weighs about 1 ton. The rocket is capable of putting payloads into orbit.

The company, founded in 2013 by former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie, aims to develop low-cost commercial rockets to carry satellites into space.

Saturday's success came after two failures in 2017 and 2018. It is Japan's first privately developed rocket to reach the outer space.

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