Japanese startup's rocket launch fails

A private rocket launch by a Japanese firm has failed to reach space after liftoff.

Interstellar Technologies, which is based in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, launched the 5th version of its "Momo" rocket at 5:15 a.m. on Sunday from a site in the town of Taiki.

The company says the rocket's engine nozzle broke 36 seconds after liftoff and the craft lost balance.

The engine was brought to an emergency stop 34 seconds later.

The rocket fell into the sea about 4 kilometers off the coast after reaching an altitude of 11.5 kilometers.

The company postponed the launch of the "Momo-5" in January due to trouble with its communication equipment. It has since resolved the issue with new parts.

This was the fifth launch of the "Momo" rocket. The third rocket launched in May last year was the only one that reached the target altitude of 100 kilometers.

Company president Inagawa Takahiro said the result was disappointing, and that the firm will look into the cause of the problem.

He added that the next rocket is under construction, and he hopes to continue the launches.