On Saturday, a company successfully conducted the inaugural private rocket launch in Spain, marking Europe’s first fully private rocket launch and providing optimism for the continent’s struggling space ambitions.
Spanish firm PLD Space — which launched its small Miura-1 rocket at 02:19 am (0019 GMT) from a military base in the southern region of Andalusia — stated the lift off was “successful” and that it had achieved all its “technical objectives.”
The Miura-1 is named after a breed of fighting bull and is as tall as a three-storey building. The company’s blast off test in Huelva came after two previous attempts were aborted.
The rocket rose to 46 kilometers (29 miles) above the Gulf of Cadiz before landing in the Atlantic Ocean after five minutes of flight.
Shortly after the launch, a delighted Raul Torres, chief executive of PLD Space, all rocket systems worked “perfectly,” and the company was planning to triple its workforce.
“This is just the beginning,” he said.
Europe’s space race
Europe’s ability to send small satellites into space is under scrutiny after a failed orbital rocket launch by Virgin Orbit from Britain in January. That scheme involved releasing the launcher from a converted Boeing 747.
But competitors are currently lining up to join the race to blast off small payloads include firms in Scotland, Sweden and Germany.
Saturday’s mission on the Miura-1 was the first of two planned suborbital missions. However, analysts say the most critical attempt will be the development of orbital services on the larger Miura-5. This test is slated for 2025.