June 7, 2023

Lakeview Gazette

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Miura 1, the first 100% Spanish reusable rocket, is preparing to take off in the coming days

D-Day approaches for Miura 1, the first 100% Spanish and reusable rocket to be launched into space. Developed by Elche-based company PLD Space, the aim of the launcher is to demonstrate that its technology is capable of sending satellites into space, thus entering a sector that will move 300,000 million euros worldwide. Raúl Verdú (35 years old) and Raúl Torres (36 years old) have been behind the idea for more than a decade, they met at the Miguel Hernández University (located, precisely, in Elche) and continue to fight to make their dream come true. With the name Fighting Bull.

Last March, PLD Space moved its Miura 1 to its El Arenosillo facilities in Huelva. An infrastructure owned by the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) and the only place to launch from Spain is currently operated (although it is the intention of PLT Space, in the future its rockets will take off from Teruel Airport) . It has so far successfully completed the static test (Hot Test) where the engine runs at full power for 5 seconds to check the proper functioning of different parameters and settings (launch system, temperature and pressure) of the rocket. ) in a simulation environment.

But the aim is to fly the Miura 1, and the company has opened the launch window until May 31 this Wednesday. Earlier in the week, PLD Space explained via its social networks that low clouds and rain did not allow them to “guaranteed progress” over the weekend, and that they were not considering taking off until at least Sunday the 28th. “To ensure safety on the ground and in flight in accordance with the most stringent procedures used in the first launch.” In other words, they have a three-day window for the first departure of the Miura 1.

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Travel is ‘easy’: the rocket, 12 meters high and capable of carrying 100 kg, will rise to an altitude of 153 km. Then, the first stage will return to Earth and fall into the Atlantic Ocean about 70 kilometers off the coast. There you will be taken by a boat. “The purpose of this first flight of the Miura 1 SN1 technology demonstrator is to gather the largest amount of information possible to continue validating much of the design, technology and processes that will then be transferred and integrated into the Miura 5,” Torres said. A said contacted.

“In this test flight, our definition of success is that the rocket is far from the launch pad. We know that putting the Miura 1 on the runway today is an achievement for us, the industry and Spain, and every second it is in the air is learning and data for the development of the Miura 5. «. Some words that sound like the ever-controversial words that SpaceX creator Elon Musk used to exploding his ‘toys’ before his tests (most recently a month ago, in the ill-fated test of his megarocket Starship ) and whose motto is ‘make mistakes fast, learn fast’.

However, these words of Torres seem to contradict his own argument a few months ago, not thinking about this ‘explosive’ scenario: “If it lasts about 10 hours, the minimum risk factor, the operation for that day will be stopped and the next flight window will start anew. We would rather delay the flight than end up with a damaged rocket. Always wanted,” he said.

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This isn’t the first time the company has seen its prototype explode. Four years ago, one of its engines failed during a test. This event was followed by a financial crisis. At that time, Ezequiel Sánchez, the company’s current executive chairman and part of the trio dedicated to numbers, joined. During the presentation of the Miura 1 in Madrid in 2021, he explained to ABC, “It’s one of those moments where everything collapses in companies or it’s a push.” “In our case, we came out. Everything was renewed,” he assured.

Next steps

If the test goes as planned, the next target is the Miura 5, a rocket three times larger (as a ten-story building), capable of carrying a payload of up to 450 kg, expandable to one ton, and reusable. (Image and resemblance to the SpaceX Falcon). The idea is to launch it at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) facilities in French Guiana and, if successful, “start its commercial operation around 2025”. That means start sending cargo into space within two years.

But gradually. For now, PLD Space will broadcast live from its website and social networks 24 hours before the flight. There they are confident: “Pitcher ready, team ready and range ready!”, read. From Spain to Heaven.