A Paper Rocket
One day at Tokyo University in 1954, Prof. Itokawa told
a graduate student to come and see him. He told the student to make a
model rocket and carry out a wind-tunnel experiment to measure its stability.
"How much can I spend on the model?" the student asked. Itokawa replied,
"Nothing." His intention must have been, "Work it out by youself." The
student came up with a paper rocket A card cylinder for a diploma became
the rocket's body. To complete the model rocket, a nose-cone and four
fins, paper again, were attached.
Of course, this paper rocket did not play any role in the
wind-tunnel experiment, but to the student's surprise, it went down in
Glancing at the paper rocket, Itokawa murmured "Good"
and took it outside to photograph it on the field. This photo was
inserted with the caption "Domestic Rocket No.1 Manufactured Experimentally
at University of Tokyo" in his article entitled "Flying across the
Pacific in 20 minutes -- A dream for domestic rocket" in the Mainichi
Shimbun newspaper on January 3, 1955.
An excellent performance through journalism is one
of Itokawa's particular characteristics. The graduate student was
Prof. Ryojiro Akiba, currently Director-General of ISAS.
By the way, Itokawa's article caught the attention
of Susumu Okano, who was then responsible for coordinating space
science at the Ministry of Education. Okano was deeply impressed
by Itokawa's ambitious idea for Japanese rockets. As he described
it later, Okano's encounter with Itokawa's article determined the
direction of Japan's space development.