Japan’s mini space elevator goes to space

Researchers have launched a pair of satellites to the International Space Station.

Obayashi Corporation

Researchers in Japan have launched a pair of satellites bound for the International Space Station on Sept. 22, Science News reported Monday.

The weekend launch, conducted at the Shizuoka University in Japan, is the first trial conducted in space as part of the Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite (STARS) project. The satellites, called STARS-ME, will be “carried to the ISS by HTV launched by the H-IIB rocket,” according to information on the project’s website.

The launch was originally scheduled for Sept. 11. It’s not yet clear why it was delayed for more than a week. CNET has written to the team for clarification.

If successful, space elevators are expected to cut the costs of transporting people and objects to and from space tremendously. Still, there are a number of developments needed to progress, such as special cables resistant to high energy cosmic rays.

The launch follows earlier ones called STARS, STARS-II and STARS-C in 2009, 2014 and 2016 respectively, of which only STARS still operates in space. A new launch known as STARS-AO is imminent too, planned for Oct. 29.

Shizuoka University did not immediately respond to a query seeking information about the differences of these launches.

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