The Miura 1 rocket lifted off at 00:19 UTC on October 7, 2023, from the El Arenosillo Experimentation Centre facilities in Huelva, Spain. During the 306 seconds of flight, the vehicle reached an apogee of 46 km, a little more than half of the planned altitude of the mission. All primary mission objectives related to the engine, the tracking, and the launcher were achieved, as stated by the company in the mission press release.
The mission payload was an experiment to study microgravity conditions made by the German Centre for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM).
The flight ended with a splash-down in the Atlantic Ocean, where PLD Space boats were ready to recover the rocket and its payload. Unfortunately, due to the rupture of one of the main tanks, Miura 1 sank, and it was impossible to pick it up from the sea.
Miura 1, PLD Space first step in space
PLD Space decided to start its journey to space with a single-stage suborbital rocket, named after a type of fighting bull. It can carry up to 100 Kg of payload to suborbital space to run experiments in microgravity conditions and for technological development.
Miura 1 is designed to be reusable, a first for a European country. During descent, the rocket deploys a drogue parachute at 5 Km from the surface and a main parachute at 3 Km, ending the flight with a gentle splash-down in the ocean. Then, a ship from PLD Space picks up the rocket, allowing it to recover the payload within four hours from the launch.
Miura 1 is also a test bed for developing the PLD Space orbital rocket, Miura 5, which is expected to fly in 2025 from the European Spaceport in Kourou.
PLD Space, bringing Spain into the space arena
Founded in 2011 by Raúl Torres, Raúl Verdú, and José E. Martínez, the company aims to provide launch services to small satellites and payloads. To accomplish this, they developed the Miura rockets, producing them entirely in Spain.
Thanks to these vehicles, Spain will gain the capability of reaching space and deploying small satellites in orbit.
Europe will benefit too from these accomplishments. PLD Space will take part in the new ESA’s pool of European launch service providers available to deliver European Commission IOD/IOV payloads to orbit under the Boost! initiative.