Spain’s PLD Space MIURA 1 rocket moves to Huelva and prepares for its first launch ~ it will be the first flight of a private rocket in Europe.
Press Release, Elche, 07 March 2023: [auto-translated] The Spanish company PLD Space has moved the first MIURA 1 flight unit from its headquarters in Elche to the launch base in Huelva. After successfully completing the manufacturing and integration phases, the suborbital micro-launcher is ready to start the flight demonstration campaign that will take place at the facilities of the Centro de Experimentación de El Arenosillo (CEDEA) del Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), belonging to the Ministry of Defence of Spain. The mission, which will last approximately several months, will culminate in what will be the first launch of a private rocket in Europe.
During the last few months, PLD Space has focused its efforts on manufacturing and fine-tuning its demonstrator rocket. These works have incorporated the improvements learned in the MIURA 1 qualification campaign that ended last September with the successful flight mission test at the company’s test bench in Teruel. In these phases of design and production of the flight unit, the team has had to face certain differences with respect to the previously manufactured test unit. Among them is the material of the structure itself (it goes from steel to aluminium), as well as the recovery bay (which in the flight unit includes the flaps, the speedbrakes or the parachutes) or the payload bay, which now it incorporates all the mechanical, electrical and electronic interfaces that allow it to house the customers’ micro-loads.
In parallel, the company has also finished manufacturing and testing the ramp that serves both as a trailer for transporting the rocket and as a launch ramp. Likewise, the construction and preparation works of the CEDEA facilities in Huelva have been completed, so that PLD Space will become the first private operator to use a port space in Europe.
“In that area there was no infrastructure to be able to launch MIURA 1. During the last months, we have adapted the area and built all the necessities of the launch platform, which has already been accepted to host the rocket”, says the co-founder and director PLD Space launch officer, Raúl Torres.
The company has successfully completed this phase of the programme and has moved the demonstrator micro-launcher next to the ramp from its Elche factory to the Huelva facilities. The space vehicle is already at the launch site, ready for the start of the flight test campaign.
The MIURA 1 launch mission includes a series of rocket preparation and maintenance work at the El Arenosillo hangar, as well as different tests at the Médano del Loro launch base. During these weeks, the payload of the first customer, the German Center for Applied Technology and Microgravity (ZARM), belonging to the University of Bremen, will also be transferred and integrated.
Subsequently, PLD Space has different MIURA 1 flight windows during which the launch will take place, which will be conditioned by the safety of the area, the weather conditions and the availability of the rocket itself.
The ultimate goal is to carry out a first flight test to validate the technology developed so far by PLD Space in real conditions. During the following launches of MIURA 1, the flight requirements will be expanded until valid knowledge and experience are obtained to transfer to the orbital rocket that the company is already developing, MIURA 5, and that will fly from French Guiana at the end of 2024.