Monday, 9 October 2023, 12:37
Spanish company PLD Space is already working on its next rocket after the successful test launch of the reusable Miura-1 from Andalusian soil at the weekend, and it has promised it will be even bigger and better.
The Miura-1 rocket was launched early on Saturday 7 October from Huelva in south-west Spain, successfully carrying out Europe’s first fully private rocket launch and offering hope for its stalled space ambitions.
One of the founders of PLD Space, Raúl Torres, said the flight lasted only 12 minutes, enough to demonstrate that its technology worked. "One hundred percent of the objectives have been met. We have achieved it, we have made history. We have made a giant leap in the country's technology. But this is only the beginning," he said.
Miura-1, which has placed Spain in the select group of only ten countries with the capacity to build and launch satellites into space, is only a test platform. "Like testing with a Formula 3 to later build a Formula 1," Torres added. The Miura-5 rocket is already in the making and currently under construction - it is expected to take off from French Guiana in 2025. It will cost 60 million euros and will be 36 metres long and two metres in width, three-times bigger than Miura-1.
It will be powered by five engines, each with 100,000 horsepower and its thrust force 30 times greater. It is also designed to be reusable. It is intended to carry small satellites weighing just over a kilo - to 450-kilo payloads and will weigh 68 tonnes and expected to be able to make 15 trips a year at a cost of around eight million euros each time.
'Space, the next internet'
A few months ago an agreement was signed with the French Space Agency for Miura-5 to be launched from the ELM-Diamant base in Korou. PLD Space aims to enter a market that is growing exponentially.
The space race of recent years has made "space the next internet because of its global impact", as Raúl Verdú, the other co-founder of the Alicante company said earlier this year.
2025, a key year in the space race
2025 is shaping up to be a key year in the resurgent space race. In addition to the launch of Miura-5, all eyes will be on the Artemis programme. Led by Nasa and with the collaboration of half-a-dozen other space agencies, including Europe, the goal is to return man to the moon 56 years after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on it for the first time.
American astronaut Christina Koch is expected to become the first woman to walk on the Earth's satellite in 2025. The first stage of the programme happened in November last year when the Orion spacecraft was launched to orbit the moon. The second stage is scheduled for 2024 and will already have a crew of four astronauts, the same ones who should land on the moon a year later, in the third stage. The aim of the project is to establish a permanent base on the moon, which would serve as a springboard for a future jump to Mars. The viability of the project depends largely on Elon Musk and his Starship lifter, the largest and most powerful rocket ever built.
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