The Smallest Rocket – The SS-520-5

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On February 3rd JAXA successfully launched a payload to orbit with the smallest rocket ever – 2.6 tons and less than 10 meters tall. The SS-520-5 takes a sounding rocket and adds a 3rd stage along with guidance and control hardware to orient the rocket prior to insertion.

  1. Ruslan Zarifov

    I love you Scott, you’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever seen.

  2. K1lostream

    Scott – what do you think of cubesats? Do they all have to have the capability to de-orbit themselves these days? or are they likely contributors to the Kessler syndrome if they’re launched in large numbers?

  3. Spiz103

    Quick Question: Whilst solid rocket motors have traditionally been considered the “cheap” option – why are things like the Vega such niche players in the launch market?

  4. koshua

    Missing a golden opportunity to name a launch vehicle the “Pocket Rocket”.

  5. manofsan

    SS-520? So a Soviet naming convention then?

  6. Leninod

    Schutzstaffel-520-2 or what lol

  7. basogoreng

    Strap this on a VLS and i think you just got a new seaborne launch system

  8. Benson Peng

    Imagine this as Amazon one day global delivery system. :)

  9. spart icuz

    Japan first satellite was launched by a sounding rocket in 1971.

  10. sferrin2

    Could an SM-3 Block IIA launch a tiny sat into orbit?

  11. chricton J

    Interesting. Thanks for actual launch footage, I usually only see the animation.

  12. Dan

    American engineers: “how big can we make it?”
    Japanese engineers: “how small can we make it?”

  13. fhhsvnggbh

    aww i love it when mr Manley compares real life to Kerbal hahaa :)

  14. NavidIsANoob

    Your videos are gaining in views again, I see. That’s great!

  15. Andy Spark

    *tazuki* たずき a tiger
    is that correct ?

  16. FlyingSurprise

    I was thinking about how similair the launch is to KSP and there it came, the KSP reference. :-)

  17. Brian A. Thomas

    I’d like to see a comparison between this and Rocket Lab’s Electron in size and ability…

  18. Dr. Spectre

    The japanese are exceptionally good at miniatuaturizing existing technologies!

  19. 1_2_Die

    Great times we are livin’

  20. cacarey01

    Hullo Scott. Could this design be weaponised?

  21. sccrdude22

    You should make something along the lines of Project Thor, a kinetic bombardment satellite that was propose during the Cold War, in KSP

  22. Robert Nielsen

    Nice. What is the initial TWR of that thing?

  23. Pedro Cardenas

    Useful if you forget your phone on earth👌

  24. Skrinklewink The Sane

    Loving that one person that disliked this video, so far.

  25. Nate Kennedy

    hey Scott, neat video. Whats the lightest SRB rocket u can orbit in Kerbal?

  26. fsmoura

    Japanese launch the smallest rocket
    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  27. Takayuki Aoki


  28. Jack Ryan

    Could a rail gun shoot down a satellite?
    They can fire a projectile at ~5000 Mph (I think)
    Is that possible?

  29. mrlevite1237

    Maybe i should watch the video to the end before commenting.. :D

  30. MrVipitis

    you can easily put this on a plane

  31. Muhammad Shadab

    FH can send it to Pluto and near Pluto this can fire its engine to get into Pluto’s orbit!!

  32. Pirkka1

    Japanese sure like their things small ;)

  33. Francois Leveille

    In the 1990’s, I was very much into model rockets and even flew a few ‘High Powered’ rockets. I always asked myself, what’s the minimum sized rocket you can use to get to orbit and… there’s the answer!

  34. Alejandro Medina

    You can launch things into space from your backyard with that thing.

  35. SportsRGreat

    I’m an expert at orienting my rocket for insertion. BLAST OFF!!!!!

  36. Eric Valor

    So it’s literally a “rice rocket”! (many apologies but I couldn’t resist)

  37. Jussi Leinonen

    If you have to guess what caused any piece of space hardware to catastrophically fail, “frayed wiring” is a classic.

  38. Blatantly Fake Name

    JAXA really don’t do a good job of publicising their stuff. >_

  39. Tobias Schiørring

    it should had been called the SS-420, so it would had gotten more attention

  40. BuzzedAldrin

    Yeah 2500kg rocket for a 4kg payload is a bit excessive, still cool though!

  41. David Roberts

    Hi Scot Manley cool 😎 video 🇬🇧❤️David

  42. Jack Meadows

    I got a question for you: what is the *simplest* orbital rocket/spacecraft ever?

  43. MCVD

    Dude, this rocket weighs two Honda S2000s.

  44. Jared's Altermind

    Could I do one of these in my backyard? :D

  45. Sean McDonough

    I wonder if the SS-520-5 or something derived from it could be used as part of a Mars sample return mission (as the rocket for launching a small amount of soil/rock back into Mars orbit)?

  46. RME76048

    4:39 ‘real rockets’ … nothing fake about this one!
    4:58 the still shot appears to show a yo-yo despin.
    Quite an achievement! I can see where specialized cube-sats could be launched at (literally) a moment’s notice to measure just about anything and at a truly down-to-Earth cost! Something affordable that could put college class projects into orbit too.

  47. stren

    way to go Jaxa, innovating once again

  48. Lucas Silva

    seems like nowadays when someone talks about rockets, there are space x and the others lol

  49. 5Andysalive

    How useful is a 4kg satelite?
    Then again, how useful is a 1.x ton tesla…

  50. possessedllama

    Man, I need to get down to Kyushu to see a JAXA launch at some point.

  51. MsSomeonenew

    On this kind of level I wonder if a space gun combo could make it much cheaper, as in launch a smaller rocket a couple miles up and then do the burn.

  52. Paul Gemperlein

    This is freaky. Just looked up the SS-520 half an hour ago wondering why I haven’t seen a video of it and then here we have it

  53. Ryan Nygard

    Any idea what the cost of sending that cubesat to space?

  54. Horizon Foz

    So it can orbit a playstation console…

  55. Sean McDonough

    1:48 – Just like in Kerbal Space Program!

  56. Enrico Dandolo

    >video about a fascinating new LV for microsats
    >every other sentence mentions the Falcon Heavy
    The Musk hype is everywhere, indeed.

  57. lolskigaming

    I can’t even launch my school bag into orbit

  58. Abudee 3

    The one dislike is Elon Musk.

  59. Patchuchan

    I wonder if they mounted this rocket on top of a lander and launch it on Falcon Heavy could it be used to return a sample from one of Jupiter’s moons or even Pluto?

  60. NoName

    Please, Scott, add “orbital” in the title
    You have just made angry a lot of casual rocket makers

  61. Jackalovski

    If anyone was going to get the world record for making the smallest of something technical like an orbital class rocket, you’d expect it to be the Japanese.

  62. Ryan Valentine

    Police officer: Sir, what is that in your car?
    Me: An orbital capable rocket.

  63. cheeseball

    We need a banana in a stable orbit that will last until the next space-faring race develops on earth. Or, if that is too hard, just set one on the moon to just chill their.

  64. Michael on Youtube

    do you think we will ever come to a point where these small launchers can be mass produced? It would be cool if instead of your school doing a time capsule, you do a space capsule.

  65. jithinchand

    These recent rocket launches reminds me of that Southpark pokemon episode where the Japanese executives praise the size of the American pecker and loathe their own tiny ones.

  66. Ram Laska

    4:04 Ha! I’ve been doing that in KSP for ages! lol 🤪

  67. Sean McDonough

    Of course, going by JAXA’s official naming scheme, the orbital version of the SS-520 should really be called the _SSS-520,_ since it has three stages.

  68. c s

    I actually noticed the launch because of the app “Next Spaceflight”. But what I think one can also see at that launch is that spaceX got the best live stream quality. They explain the payload, they have a nicer timeline than eg rocket labs, they have these info boxes about liftoff, startup, maxQ and they have a nice telemetry box. The music before the launch is fitting and the moderation is at top level. But as I havent seen all live streams from rocket launches, who do you think does it best right now?

  69. Darth Falcon

    I can’t even make a rocket in KSP that is that small, and they did it irl!

  70. Random Guy

    you can easily fit multiple of these in a 8’x8’x40′ ISO Container, and put those on the Space Shuttle.
    btw, the auto-predict text says Space Core when I said space

  71. ehu42

    A followup video explaining the guidance would be cool. I thought I read that the rocket fins spin stabilized it and then 40 some-odd little charges on the side fired in sync with the rotation to tip the rocket over to the correct orientation for the orbital insertion. That is, it sounded like the nozzle’s didn’t gimble. Would love to know more!

  72. TechyBen

    What is this? A rocket for ANTS?
    (Where is the banana for scale? And why not do a KSP style SpaceX with payload of SS-520-5 challenge? First Real Life Rocket to orbit, recovery landing, back to orbit! :D ).

  73. Michael Thomas

    Between the Falcon Heavy and this little thing, deep space exploration programs should just start spamming light little satellites with cameras and other instruments in all directions!

  74. Snarky . Live

    At 10 meters long you can tow the SS-520 behind most SUVs let alone trucks. You could build a launch pad on a small trailer and have an orbital rocket you could launch anywhere. It seems like we’re getting to the point where a person could cheaply make orbit from their own backyard using off the shelf parts.

  75. Ravlen1

    Not that it’s super important, but the launch site is Uchinoura, pronounced Oo-chi-no-oo-rah (with no emphasis on any syllable).
    I live in the area, FYI (You can see terrible videos of an Epsilon launch I took from the same launch site).

  76. Pluto :

    Did they send a hot wheels car for the test flight?

  77. Dave

    Excellent platform for a kinetic kill vehicle, though.

  78. Henrik Mikael Kristensen

    Could this be used to send emergency supplies to ISS?

  79. Alex Quant

    No wonder no one noticed .. IT’S BLOODY TINY!!!

  80. RancidMarshmallow

    falcon heavy + SS-520-5 = finally able to do the kerbal-level feat of getting to orbit, deorbiting, and then getting to orbit again!

  81. GrexTheCrabasitor

    Book in 2040: How The Japanese Took Over The Space Industry

  82. Charlie M.

    How much does this cost? Can I afford my own satellite now?

  83. Maciej Kadłubowski

    Give it to the falt-earthers so they can check for themselves how much they are wrong :D

  84. Morgan Sinclair

    Trust Japan to make the most kawaii rocket~ 🤗

  85. NetRolller3D

    Just 3 days between the world’s smallest rocket and the world’s largest rocket.

  86. John Williss

    Seems almost Kerbal scale.

  87. hadron2

    Trust the Japanese to make everything tiny! ;)

  88. TheSigurdsson

    This is the Japanese engineering philosophy all over. Back in the 1980s, we were happy with our portable ghetto blasters which were far smaller than our home hi-fi units. The Japanese laughed, “You call that small?” Boom! they invent the Walkman.

  89. sahlool

    The big question is how much does it cost

  90. Valentine

    Right? ;o;

  91. Guardsman Miku

    it would be cool if you made a video on JAXA’s history, or perhaps the history of other smaller space programs. I don’t really know barely anything JAXA has done

  92. Chris Gonzales

    Looks and flies like the Estes rockets I flew as a kid. Of course, mine were…um… sub-orbital.

  93. Joseph D.

    I like that they just use butcher paper for the third stage fairing.

  94. Christopher

    “Japanese rocket so small, you Americans have such humongous bulbous rockets” – south park called it

  95. Schrader

    One of the big arguments of flat earthers is that the big rockets are fake and CGI, because they lift off rather slowly (which is impossible in their heads) and the fast (real) ones can’t go high enough, so space must be fake.
    I wonder what they are thinking now…

  96. Wintergreen

    I’m glad you clarified with “made into orbit” because I was about to bust out a super condescending “I made a smaller one when I was 10.”

  97. drink15

    One closer to pizza delivery to the ISS.

  98. Timgor

    The Japanese just really like their small and cute things. Now someone needs to anthropomorphize it. I need Rocket-Chan in my life.

  99. James Fieweger

    So Scott, you’re telling me, in short, that this is basically the worlds largest model rocket.

  100. dosmastrify

    They should have called it quark, because it’s smaller than the electron

Comments are closed.