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Japanese sounding rocket. The S-520 was a larger single-stage rocket which could be equipped with a three-axis attitude control and a recovery system. It had the capability of launching a 100 kg payload above 300 km and provided more than five minutes of micro-gravity flight for experiments.

Status: Active. First Launch: 1980-01-18. Last Launch: 2015-09-11. Number: 31 . Thrust: 143.00 kN (32,147 lbf). Gross mass: 2,300 kg (5,000 lb). Unfuelled mass: 400 kg (880 lb). Burn time: 29 s. Height: 9.00 m (29.50 ft). Diameter: 0.52 m (1.70 ft). Apogee: 430 km (260 mi).

The S-520 was developed to replace the K-9M and K-10 type sounding rockets, and succeeded in doubling the payload capability of the K-9M by applying high-performance propellant, an optimum thrust program and a lightweight structure. The thrust program and stabilization strategy of the earlier S-310 was adopted, which had delivered stable flight performance since its first flight early in 1980.

The S-520 offered simplified flight operations since staging was eliminated, reduction of impact-related maritime safety, and reduction of launch cost.

The HTPB composite propellant grain was cast and molded in the case in the same way as the first stage of Mu launch vehicles. The single propellant grain provided a dual-thrust profile similar to the S-310's. The forward portion of the grain had a seven pointed gear configuration, resulting in an initial period of high thrust, while the aft portion of the grain had a simple tubular design for a sustained lower level thrust period. The nozzle's expansion ratio of 8:1 was designed to improve the effective specific impulse. The chamber was made of high tensile steel HT-140. For weight saving and heat resistance, the leading edges of the tail fins were made of titanium alloy and their body was an aluminum honeycomb sandwich plate with composite laminated surface plates.

Scientific instruments were stored inside a composite nose fairing, and common instruments just below. As an option, an attitude control module or recovery module could be installed between the common instruments and the rocket motor.

The fourth flight carried out payload retrieval, and the third flight, launched later than the fourth, performed attitude control of the nose by a hydrazine side jet system. The attitude outside the atmosphere normally was stabilized by a 2.2 deg/sec spin induced by the canted tail fins of the first stage. In this mission the last stage was despun using a yo-yo system.

More at: S-520.


SS-520 Japanese test vehicle. The SS-520 was a two-stage rocket, the first stage consisting of the main booster of the S-520. It had a capability of launching a 140 kg payload to an altitude of about 1,000 km, and with addition of a third stage, as a satellite launch vehicle.

SS-520 engine ISAS solid rocket engine. SS-520 second stage.

Country: Japan. Propellants: Solid. Launch Sites: Kagoshima, Andoya, Kagoshima L, Kagoshima K. Agency: ISAS, Nissan.

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