Europe's first reusable rocket launch scrubbed just after countdown

The launch of Spanish rocket company PLD Space's Miura 1 is just "a matter of time."
Chris Young
Miura 1 just after the countdown.
Miura 1 just after the countdown.

PLD Space / Twitter 

Spanish rocket startup PLD Space aborted the debut launch of its reusable suborbital Miura 1 rocket only seconds before liftoff on Saturday, June 17.

The launch at the Arenosillo facility in Huelva, southwest Spain was scrubbed mere moments after the countdown reached T-0, meaning the rocket's engines fired up for a few brief seconds.

In a Twitter thread update, translated from Spanish, PLD Space CEO Raúl Torres explained that the rocket firm will "finish a full investigation into the launch attempt and will be back soon with a new launch date."

PLD Space "won't give up"

In the Twitter thread, Torres explained that the Miura 1 countdown and the initial firing up of the rocket's engine went perfectly. However, there was a delay in the release of umbilical cables in the rocket's avionics bay, leading to PLD Space scrubbing the launch.

Torres added that the new launch date will be somewhat dependent on weather conditions — another recent launch attempt was delayed due to high wind conditions. "One thing's for sure [though]," he said, "PLD Space won't give up. We are a professional and capable team. Flying is a matter of time."

Originally called Arion 1, the suborbital Miura 1 rocket is 12.5-meters (41 feet) tall and it has a payload capacity of 100 kg (200 lb). PLD Space aims to collect the rocket from the ocean after the debut launch using a sea vessel, meaning it will be Europe's first reusable rocket.

It likely won't fly many times, though, as it is a testbed for technology PLD Space aims to use on its larger Miura 5 rocket, which will eventually launch small satellite payloads to low Earth orbit from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Miura 1 uses a proprietary liquid-propellant engine called Teprel-B and it flies on a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene.

PLD Space was co-founded in 2011 by Raúl Torres and COO Raúl Verdú with a view to accelerating space innovation in Europe.

Europe's launch problems

PLD Space recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Europe's only operational launch provider, Arianespace, alongside UK rocket firm Orbex.

While the exact date of PLD Space's next launch attempt is unclear, the European Space Agency (ESA) will likely be keeping a keen eye.

That's because Arianespace has one final launch scheduled for its Ariane 5 rocket, after which Europe will be without an operational rocket — due, in part, to the long-delayed launch of Ariane 6. Stay posted for more updates from PLD Space and Europe's space industry.

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