JAXA unveils mini-rocket

JAXA unveils mini-rocket

Japan's space agency has unveiled a relatively cheap mini-rocket that can launch microsatellites into orbit.

The new device is less than 10 meters long and about 50 centimeters in diameter.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will launch it on Wednesday from Uchinoura Space Center in the southwest of the country.

The SS-520 rocket will carry a 3-kilogram, 35-centimeter long satellite that will capture images of Earth and beam data back to ground control.

JAXA developed the rocket and the satellite for about 3.5 million dollars, a fraction of the cost of one of its conventional satellites.

The agency says it cut costs by using consumer technology such as smartphone cameras. It hopes the launch will encourage private-sector efforts to develop satellites.