The company Spanish PLD Space has successfully completed the first qualification campaign of its rocket suborbital, the ‘Miura 1‘, so it’s “ready to fly”. In the coming months it will be launched into space.
The company explains, in a statement, that has carried out for the first time in Europe a complete test of an integrated spacecraft flight mission.
The Spanish rocket will be launched in December 2022 from Huelva
Thus, after passing all the pertinent tests at its technical facilities in Teruel, “the rocket is ready for its first launch”, which continues to be scheduled for end of 2022 from El Arenosillo (Huelva), they emphasize
This qualification campaign consists of a series of tests that have the objective of ensure that all rocket subsystems are functional correctly to, finally, carry out a complete combined test, in charge of verifying that the rocket is ready for flight.
Although PLD Space had already tested and validated each of the subsystems that make up the launch vehicle, it had not yet tested all of them integrated. This test is “definitive”, they underline, to continue advancing in the planned program of ‘Miura 1’.
Rehearsals have gone as planned
Specifically, the campaign has consisted of several function validation tests and three static ignitions (also called hot tests or static tests): five, 20 and 110 seconds. The latter, known as flight mission testing, is key to the future of the vehicle because simulates all the conditions of a real launch, only without actually flying.
“We make the rocket truly think it’s on its way to space,” says PLD Space Co-Founder, CEO and Launch Director Raúl Torres.
This 110-second quiz This is roughly equivalent to the time the engine stays on in an actual launch. Its main purpose is to check the correct operation of all subsystems during a simulated flight.
With the information obtained in the different tests, the PLD Space team has been able to verify that each part of the rocket works as planned or, if not, take advantage of that data to fine-tune all the parameters of the first flight unit.
From the company they emphasize that the Miura 1 qualification campaign “has been a success because no critical subsystem has failed.” “We have compiled a list of small modifications that require programmatic management, such as changing a component or updating a design that we need to improve; but nothing critical,” says Torres.
The rocket has been improving
With each trial, aim, you get evolve and improve the flight rocket. For example, this is the type of learning acquired after aborting just six seconds before the test that was about to take place on July 19. The launch team detected a failure in the pressurization of the oxygen tank and, despite everything being ready for ignition, chose to cancel the test manually.
During the analysis carried out, PLD Space had the opportunity to get new software information and the ramp that has already been applied both in the last test and in the unit that will fly at the end of the year.
The rocket is a milestone for the Spanish company
“In Teruel we are a 15 people carrying out the trial, but we are showing our faces and pushing for the more than 115 people who make up PLD Space. This milestone is a milestone for everyone,” admits Torres.
The company adds that, from a business point of view, the success of this rating campaign also represents a milestone of very relevant value for the company.
“We are getting very high levels of quality and certainty. Every time the team plans a complex operation, it executes it in a timely manner. This is something our customers will value in the future. If it had been a flight operation, the rocket would have taken off on time without causing delays,” says the co-founder and director of Business Development, Raúl Verdú.
The launch of Miura 1 will be important for the European space industry
This test campaign is not only a milestone for PLD Space, it is also a milestone for Spain and Europe. On the one hand, it is the first time that a complete flight mission test of a fully integrated launcher has been carried out. “We are the first private company in the history of Europe to have achieved this“, highlights the executive president of PLD Space, Ezequiel Sánchez.
Secondly, this success helps to place Spain in a “position of strength” in the European space race. “The market is accelerating and we are very pleased to be the first company in Europe to have a ready-to-fly rocket,” says Sánchez.
And he highlights: “This fact makes our project strategic not only for our country but also for Europe and is a clear reference to the profitability of investing in innovation and attracting talent.”
Engineers are already working on a ‘Miura 5’
After undergoing some final tests at the company’s own test bench at Teruel Airport, it will be sent to Huelva for its inaugural flight.
At the same time, the engineering team of PLD Space is already working on the final design of its orbital vehicle, ‘Miura 5’, taking advantage of the information collected in this ‘Miura 1’ test campaign.
The objective is that the launch of the first unit take place in mid 2024 from the European spaceport in Kourou, in French Guiana.