Spanish company PLD Space has launched its own rocket for the first time. Miura1, the suborbital rocket, took off on October 7th from the El Arenosillo test center at the National Institute of Aerospace Technology in Huelva, Spain. The liftoff occurred at around 00:19 GMT.
Mission was supposed to last for 12 minutes and reach 80 kilometers above the Earth‘s surface, the altitude at which space begins. Miura1, named after a type of bullfighting bull, didn’t reach that high, reaching an altitude of about 47 km, according to the mission’s webcast (ref.). But the rocket performed well enough during its first test flight to celebrate PLD Space’s employees.
Reusable Miura1 rocket
Miura1 is a single-stage rocket standing 12.5 meters tall. It can carry approximately 100 kilograms of payload on short suborbital space flights. PLD Space’s rocket also carried a payload on this initial mission, an experiment from the German Center for Applied Space Technology. The instruments studied microgravity conditions during the flight, according to PLD Space.
Mission concluded with the Miura1’s splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. PLD Space had boats in the area aimed at recovering the vehicle for inspection and analysis. “We will learn more about the recovery effort and flight results in the coming hours and days, after PLD Space has had time to analyze the data” said PLD Space.
Miura 1 is Europe’s first recoverable rocket, following in the footsteps of the now-famous SpaceX. The company aims to learn a lot about the vehicle from the test mission to improve future flights and assist in the development of Miura5, the orbital launcher planned by the company.
Future of the project
Miura5 could be launched as early as 2024 or 2025 if all goes well. The orbital rocket, equipped with a reusable first stage, will fly from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The October 7th launch was not the first attempt. On June 17th, the launch was aborted 0.2 seconds before liftoff.
Ground software had determined that one of the cables connecting the rocket to its launch tower had not disconnected in time. PLD Space’s investigation later found that the cable had indeed been released, but 0.1 seconds later than expected.