Rockets of Today

KAIROS — Japan

The first Japanese company to try to launch something is called Space One (which transliterates as スペースワン), and they seem to be a pretty small outfit. But they put together an orbital solid rocket and sent it — a step that a lot of big talkers never reach.

They call their rocket Kairos (カイロス), a Greek word which they’ve made into a tortured acronym. The Kairos-1 has three solid stages and a liquid topper for accurate orbits. Like a lot of small launch hopefuls, they aim to provide sun-synchronous orbits and not much else. Their launch pad, “Space Port Kii”, is on a coastal cliff near the end of a southward-pointing peninsula, much like Rocket Lab’s New Zealand complex.

They made their first launch attempt in March 2024. This promptly resulted in a vigorous firefighting effort to put out the blaze in nearby trees. But it did gain some altitude before it exploded.

Theit stated ambitions are similar to those of Astra: they want to do big volume with “the world’s most frequent launch schedule”. I’d guess the chance of this happening is about as likely as a city bus in Portland being boarded by pirates and driven to Somalia.

Kairos-1: mass 23 t, diam 1.35 m, thrust unknown, imp unknown, solid fuel, payload 0.25 t (1.1%), cost unknown, record 0/0/1.