March 5: The Museum in Washington, DC will open today. Due to weather, the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA is closed.
This is a full-scale replica of the Pencil test rocket developed in Japan by the University of Tokyo in 1955 and was the smallest vehicle of its type. The rocket was so-called because of its size. The weight of a fully loaded average Pencil was less than half a pound. Yet, these rockets were precision scientific tools fired on a horizontal firing range to test several important aerodynamic factors.
After the Pencil series, the Japanese built and flew the slightly larger Baby-T rockets, then larger Kappa followed by Lambda rockets. From there on, the Japanese progressed rapidly and in 1970, launched their first satellite, the Ohsumi, using a four-stage Lambda 4S solid fuel rocket. The Pencil rocket was donated in 1994 to the Smithsonian by the Institute of Space and Astronautics of Japan.
Gift of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan.