Pencil at Michikawa
these experiments, the next stage of rocket launchings shifted to Michikawa
Beach (now Iwakicho), Akita Prefecture. Michikawa continued to be a stronghold
for Japanese rocket technology from August l955 to 1962. The historical
first trial at Michikawa was made on August 8 under a clear sky. Twenty-three
people were involved in the launch under Itokawa. A Pencil 300 was put
on a 2 m long launcher. Launch elevation was finally set to 70 deg. Countdown
began at 14:15. "Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Zero!" At 14:18, "Lift off!"
But then, a terrible sight. Just before ignition, the Pencil dropped onto
the beach, owing to weak vinyl tape at the tail. The Pencil which had
been expected to soar into the blue sky crawled along the beach like a
The tail support was strengthened with wire, and another
attempt was made at 15:23. For the first time, Pencil took off into the
hot summer sky, leaving a thin trail of beautiful white smoke. The summit
altitude was 600 m, horizontal range 700 m, and the flight time of this
historical first success was 16.8 sec.