The first Mu rocket, the Mu-1 made a single, sub-orbital, test flight, on 31 October 1966. Subsequently a series of rockets were produced, designated Mu-3 and Mu-4. In 1969 a suborbital test launch of the Mu-3D was conducted. The first orbital launch attempt for the Mu family, using a Mu-4S, was conducted on 25 September 1970, however the fourth stage did not ignite, and the rocket failed to reach orbit. On 16 February 1971, Tansei 1 was launched by another Mu-4S rocket. Two further Mu-4S launches took place during 1971 and 1972. The Mu-4S was replaced by the Mu-3C, was launched four times between 1974 and 1979, with three successes and one failure, and the Mu-3H, which was launched three times in 1977 and 1978. The Mu-3S was used between 1980 and 1984, making four launches. The final member of the Mu-3 family was the Mu-3SII, which was launched eight times between 1985 and 1995. The Mu-3 was replaced in service by the M-V.
The M-V, or Mu-5, was introduced in 1997 and retired in 2006. Seven launches, six of which were successful, were conducted. Typically, the M-V flew in a three-stage configuration, however a four-stage configuration, designated M-V KM was used 3 times, with the MUSES-B (HALCA) satellite in 1997, Nozomi (PLANET-B) spacecraft in 1998, and the Hayabusa (MUSES-C) spacecraft in 2003. The three-stage configuration had a maximum payload of 1,800 kg (4,000 lb) for an orbit with altitude of 200 km (120 mi) and inclination of 30°, and 1,300 kg (2,900 lb) to a polar orbit (90° inclination), with an altitude of 200 km (120 mi). The M-V KM could launch 1,800 kg (4,000 lb) to an orbit with 30° inclination and 400 km (250 mi) altitude.
The three stage M-V had a total launch mass of 137,500 kg (303,100 lb), whilst the total mass of a four-stage M-V KM was 139,000 kg (306,000 lb).