WASHINGTON — Spanish company PLD Space launched its first suborbital rocket Oct. 6, with the company calling the flight a success despite reaching a lower altitude than planned.
The company’s Miura 1 rocket lifted off from the El Arenosillo Experimentation Centre, a test site in southwestern Spain operated by the country’s National Institute for Aerospace Technology, at 8:19 p.m. Eastern (2:19 a.m. local time Oct. 7.) The rocket flew on a suborbital trajectory for 306 seconds before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean. The company said in a statement it was working to recover the rocket from the ocean.
The rocket reached a peak altitude of 46 kilometers on the flight. In a press kit issued before the launch, PLD Space said the rocket had a planned apogee of 80 kilometers and a flight time of 12 minutes.
PLD Space did not disclose why Miura 1 fell short of its planned altitude but called the flight a success, stating that the vehicle achieved “all technical objectives” related to its performance.
“This test flight has yielded valuable data, enabling us to validate crucial design elements and technologies that will underpin the development of our Miura 5 orbital launcher,” said Raúl Torres, co-founder of PLD Space and launch director for the mission, in a statement.
PLD Space has offered Miura 1 for suborbital microgravity research, and this launch carried a payload for Germany’s Centre for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity, or ZARM. The company, though, considered Miura 1 primarily a technology demonstrator for its Miura 5 small launch vehicle in development. It said Miura 1 will help validate 70% of the design and technology planned for Miura 5.
“We developed Miura 1 as a steppingstone to accelerate the technological advancement of Miura 5. With this mission’s success, our team is poised to rapidly progress towards the inaugural flight of Miura 5 – our ultimate goal,” said Raúl Verdú, co-founder and…