When we talk about spacecraft we imagine huge machines like those of NASA or SpaceX. However, on February 3, the Japanese space agency JAXA successfully launched the SS-520, 31 feet long and only 19 inches in diameter.
The 2.6-tonne spacecraft put into orbit a tiny 6.6-pound satellite for geological reconnaissance. Due to its size, it was recently recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest in the world.
The launch was made from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima prefecture (southwestern Japan) and was broadcast live by JAXA through its YouTube channel.
In a statement, JAXA commented that this record was possible thanks to the high level of science and technology in Japan, and also due to the extensive experience they have acquired in this field. “We were able to manufacture such a small craft thanks to the high scientific and technological development of our country,” said Hiroto Habu, the project manager. The project, which required years of development, cost almost $3.5 million.
Similarly, the agency expects that reducing the cost of launches will push people, industry and scientists to more widely use space technologies.
It should be noted that in January 2017 a rocket of the same model was launched, but the flight failed and ended up in the ocean.