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  Chapter 5  Moving toward the Baby rocket  
First step to a large-scale rocket

Following the Pencil rocket, the development of the Baby rocket was another relatively successful project. The good thing about it, first of all, was that it almost reached the speed of sound. There wasn't any device to measure speed at that time, so it was just based on our calculations, but I imagine it fell just short of the speed of sound. The Baby S was the first model. The proceeding Baby T model carried a telemeter for the first time. It was the responsibility of Professor Noboru Takagi and Professor Tamiya Nomura to make this. I remember I also made a measuring device like a sham, an accelerometer, but it didn't work. Regardless, it was great news when we learned that the Baby rocket successfully carried a telemeter. The last model, the Baby R, was equipped with a parachute and buoys, and we performed a recovery of it as well. The onboard equipment on the Baby R didn't work again, but we still performed the recovery. It was rewarding for us to have worked on all the fundamental functions of the observation rockets. The flight altitude was very low, but it was quite an achievement that we carried out all these experiments within the same year. We had planned it like this within the research group and had hopes of developing rocket passenger transportation. The year of 1955 marked a tremendous milestone. (Akiba)

Following the Pencil rocket, the second double base propellant rocket, the Baby, was 120-cm long and about 10 kg in weight with an outer diameter of 8 cm. Fuji Seimitsu had been performing the earlier combustion tests on it. The Baby rocket was a two-stage rocket and it had three models -- the S, the T and the R. These rockets were launched from August through to December in 1955 and all of them reached an altitude of approximately 6 kms. For the S model, we loaded the smoke generator in it for the optical tracking of smoke in order to confirm the flight performance. The T model carried the first Japanese telemeter, which was the fruit of the efforts of Takagi, Nomura and the manufacturer of the electrical machinery. The R model carried a camera made by Tsuneyoshi Uemura and we were successful with an experiment to open a parachute on descent and recover the camera. That was the first on-board equipment recovery performed in Japan.

At the time of the launch of the first Baby R, a lucky charm that protected Itokawa's loving car was launched aboard it and recovered together with the on-board camera. Needles to say, a picture of Itokawa talking about the pleasure of the world's first equipment recovery at sea with his wet lucky charm in his palm was displayed in the newspapers the next morning.

Professor Maruyasu remembers when he was asked by Itokawa, "Can you track the trajectory of a rocket launch using a transit instrument and collect the data to ensure a specific altitude is recorded for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) program?"

--- I joined the experiment group. Then, I selected a high area behind the launch site, equipped the transit instrument and tracked the Baby rockets after they were launched. At that time, when I saw photos of experimental rockets launched in the U.S., they were easily soaring high up into the sky. However, the rockets in Michikawa flew diagonally toward the ocean at a great speed. I was taught that this was because American rockets and rockets launched by the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo (IIS) used different fuels. When it came to tracking rockets using a transit instrument, the telescope only had a visual field of about 1 degree, so once you lost the rocket, it didn't return to the visual field. I felt so tense while I was standing by and listening to the launch countdowns. (Maruyasu)

The baby rocket between Toda and Kashimura

The baby rocket launcher

The launch of the Baby rocket
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