Paris, France – The maiden flight of the Spanish-built Miura 1 rocket was cancelled Wednesday due to high winds, startup PLD Space said, in a setback for development of the small-scale space launcher.
“We have no green light, there are gusts of wind at high altitude above our limits. That means we don’t have sufficiently safe conditions to launch,” a commentator said on PLD Space’s livestream of the lift-off, which was to be Spain’s first.
It will be several days before a new launch window opens, the commentator added.
Standing just 12 metres (40 feet) tall, the small rocket was to fly 100 kilometres (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface from a military base in southern Spain.
While that distance would put it in outer space, the rocket is not powerful enough to reach orbit.
Wednesday’s sub-orbital launch had been slated to bring a payload with micro-gravity experiments, as well as setting up PLD Space’s plans for future rockets.
“The idea is to learn and to minimise risks for the first flights of the Miura 5”, said PLD Space cofounder Raul Verdu, referring to a launcher the firm hopes will place satellites into orbit from 2025.
Although far larger at 35 metres and boasting two separate launch stages, that rocket uses around 70 percent of the components developed for the Miura 1.
Companies are rushing to develop launchers to address a growing satellite market.
Around 18,500 small orbiters weighing less than 500 kilos (1,100 pounds) are projected to be launched in the coming decade, according to analysts from Euroconsult.