Spain's PLD Space postpones first launch due to risk of forest fires

'We are very close to successfully launching Europe's first reusable rocket,' PLD Space CEO Raúl Torres said following the announcement.
Chris Young
Miura 1 during a launch attempt.
Miura 1 during a launch attempt.

PLD Space 

Spanish rocket startup PLD Space announced on Tuesday, June 27, that it has postponed the debut flight of its suborbital class Miura 1 launch vehicle.

The company's first launch of Miura 1 was due to take place this summer, though high wind conditions and a technical glitch led to two launch scrubs. Now, PLD Space has stated it is postponing the first launch of its rocket to September due to regulations related to forest fires.

Miura 1 will serve as a testbed for technology to be used on PLD Space's orbital Miura 5, which is set to eventually take off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Europe's first reusable rocket launch postponed

The launch of Miura 1, which could become Europe's first reusable rocket, was set to go ahead from a coastal military facility called El Arenosillo near the city of Huelva on the south coast of Spain.

In a press statement, PLD Space announced it has had to stand down until September due to "obligatory compliance with [regulations for] the prevention of forest fires ... as well as the high temperatures recorded in Huelva and the necessary coordination with the Guardia Civil to ensure the safety of the area where the launch is carried out."

The company scrubbed a launch attempt on May 31 only a few hours before launch due to high upper-level winds in the area.

Another launch attempt on June 17 was then scrubbed only moments after the countdown reached zero. Miura 1's first-stage engine briefly ignited, but PLD Space said the launch was scrubbed due to a 0.25-second delay in the release of an umbilical cable, which triggered an automatic abort.

"Launching a rocket designed from scratch is a major challenge and we successfully completed 99.9% of all pre-launch procedures up to the countdown," Raúl Torres, chief executive and co-founder of PLD Space, explained in the press statement. "The entire pre-launch phase was a resounding success, and we are very close to successfully launching Europe's first reusable rocket."

Gathering data for Miura 5

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 its debut launch, now scheduled for September, using a ship, meaning it will be Europe's first reusable rocket.

Spain's PLD Space postpones first launch due to risk of forest fires
An artist's impression of a PLD Space rocket.

The rocket booster will perform a soft splash down in the ocean using a parachute before it's retrieved by a vessel stationed at sea.

"For every second Miura 1 is in the air, we will be learning and gathering data for the development of Miura 5,” Ezequiel Sanchez, executive president of PLD Space, said in a statement before the Miura 1 launch attempt in May.

PLD Space also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Europe's only operational launch provider, Arianespace, alongside UK rocket firm Orbex, in a move that could help to reduce Europe's reliance on Arianespace's Ariane 6 rocket, which won't take to the skies until 2024.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board