Industry and the AVSA Group
On his return to Japan, Itokawa started educating Japanese
who could collaborate with him on hardware and software. His organizing
activities from August to December, 1953, focussed on engineering leaders
The first company that responded positively to Itokawa's
proposal was Fuji Seimitsu Co., which used to be Nakajima Aircraft Company
and the present Nissan Motor Co. Dr. Yasuaki Toda, a chief engineer at
Fuji Seimitsu, in cooperation with Dr. Tsutomu Murata of Nippon Oil and
Fat Corporation, selected double base as the first propellant for test
rockets. The double base was shaped like macaroni and was 9.5 mm in diameter,
4 mm in inner diameter and 123 mm in length. Thus, Tokyo University started
its rocket development using solid propellant at ¥5,000 a piece.
At the same time, some young engineers and scientists in
the University of Tokyo, led by Prof. Hideo Itokawa, formed a research
group called AVSA (Avionics and Supersonic Aerodynamics) aiming at rocket
development in Japan. AVSA had its first official meeting on February
5, 1954, after a preparatory meeting in December of 1953.
In FY1954, AVSA and its supporting companies were given
¥3,300,000 in total. The budget was well applied to produce a variety
of tiny test rockets with solid propellant, and to carry out firing tests
in laboratories and factories.