UP Aerospace, Inc. Releases Initial Analysis of Its Rocket Launch from New Mexico's ''Spaceport America''
HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--UP Aerospace, Inc., www.upaerospace.com the world's premier supplier of low-cost space access, has released its initial analysis of the September 25th flight of its unmanned SpaceLoft XL vehicle.
“We're certainly anxious to characterize the anomaly that occurred. Our SpaceLoft XL vehicle was performing precisely as planned, heading on its exact trajectory to space. All systems were fine until nine seconds into the flight.”
Pre-launch activities began at approximately 5:30 AM Mountain Time, for an anticipated launch at 7:30 AM. Almost immediately into the pre-launch activities it was discovered that the rocket's onboard C-band transponders (the devices that provide tracking information to radar sites) were not functioning properly. Over the next two hours the launch team successfully diagnosed and corrected the issue, which turned out to be an errant electrical ground. The launch team then assembled at the Launch Control Center. A poll of the launch team was unanimous to proceed with the launch countdown.
The countdown clock was adjusted to a new launch window of between 2:00 and 2:30 PM. The entire countdown proceeded absolutely flawlessly, and built-in optional "holds" were not required.
The vehicle was launched at 2:14 PM Mountain Time. The vehicle was rapidly picked up by three radars at the White Sands Missile Range, proving that the morning fix of the C-band transponders was successful -- and that the "GO" for launch by the team was the correct decision.
The vehicle was intended to fly beyond the international definition of space (100km or 62 miles), with a final anticipated apogee of 365,000 feet or 69.1 miles in 155 seconds. The vehicle flew on a flawless trajectory for nine seconds, reaching an altitude of 24,000 feet. At that point, an anomaly occurred. The anomaly caused a wobble in the vehicle's flight trajectory. The vehicle continued upward reaching a peak altitude of 42,000 feet. The vehicle then returned to earth, unpowered, landing in the New Mexico desert. Radar track was lost approximately 2,000 feet above the desert floor. UP Aerospace and Spaceport America personnel are continuing to search for the vehicle.
Jerry Larson, President of UP Aerospace, said, "We're certainly anxious to characterize the anomaly that occurred. Our SpaceLoft XL vehicle was performing precisely as planned, heading on its exact trajectory to space. All systems were fine until nine seconds into the flight." Larson continued, "White Sands Missile Range did a phenomenal job the entire day. They stood by through the morning's countdown hold, giving our team the time to diagnose and correct the transponder issue. They then provided immediate and excellent radar-track data during the flight."
Larson added, "We're sifting through data from three radar sites, piecing together valuable information and performing the needed flight analysis. We're simultaneously searching rugged terrain to get to the vehicle's landing point. Once all of the air and ground data are assembled and processed, we'll know exactly what happened -- and make whatever corrections are necessary for the next flight."
Larson further added, "Until all facts are assembled, all possibilities remain on the table. However, from what we've seen so far, and how well the vehicle was performing until the anomaly, we would be extremely surprised if we discover a major issue. We're looking forward to identifying the anomaly, correcting it, and proceeding with the space-flight missions on our launch calendar."
Eric Knight, CEO of UP Aerospace, said, "We've been so flooded with positive and encouraging e-mails from around the world that our e-mail servers can barely process them." Knight continued, "Keeping in the sprit of this new public era of space flight, we will keep our launch partners and the public fully informed our analysis. Our investigation and corrective actions will be an open book."
Knight went on to say, "Our launch was successful on many, many fronts. We proved that a private company can team up with multiple entities -- in this case, Spaceport America, White Sands Missile Range, the FAA, and regional and government land owners -- and successfully conduct a space launch. We're even more excited about the future than we were before the launch. We will correct the issue with the rocket and be back on the launch pad, counting down for another space launch, very soon."
UP Aerospace is scheduling up to 30 space launches per year from New Mexico's "Spaceport America". The company's SpaceLoft XL vehicle can launch up to 110 pounds (50 kilograms) of scientific, educational, and entrepreneurial payloads into space, with an altitude capability of up to 140 miles (225 kilometers).
For more information on UP Aerospace, Inc., and its uniquely affordable space-launch capabilities, visit www.upaerospace.com