Could France or Spain Steal the UK’s Launch Laurels?

15th Sep 2022
Could France or Spain Steal the UK’s Launch Laurels?

PLD Space, a vertical launch company from Spain, successfully completed a full static test of their MIURA 1 sub-orbital rocket. The company announced on 15th September that this 122-second flight mission test plus an array of function validation tests confirm that MIURA 1 is ready for a launch by the end of 2022.

Spain and its contender

MIURA 1 will launch from Spain. The launch site is at Spain’s National Institute of Aerospace El Arenosillo near Huelvo on the Gulf of Cadiz. The company states that an orbital rocket, MIURA 5, will launch from French Guyana in the future.

PLD Space claim that the firing keeps Spain firmly on the map when it comes to space launch. Company president Ezequiel Sanchez claimed that PLD Space is the first private firm “in the history of Europe” to successfully test a fully integrated launcher.

Rumblings from France

HyPr Space, short for Hybrid Propulsion For Space, announced on 14th September the successful test of its Aerospike nozzle. The nozzle is designed for work with the company’s hybrid fuel engine for its first stage booster rockets. This engine mixes liquid oxygen and a solid propellant and produces no toxic propulsion gasses.

HyPr Space plans to have a lineup of vertical launch vehicles for microsatellites. These include the Baguette, which is designed for suborbital flights. The company is based in the city of Bordeaux.

Can they catch up?

HyPrSpace is far from launching a Baguette any time soon. However, developments in Spain are progressing to the point that Europe’s next space launch could come from Spain and not the UK. Virgin Orbit expects to launch from Spaceport Cornwall in the near future, but a major delay there could give PLD Space bragging rights. However, given that Virgin Orbit intends to place satellites into orbit and that there are plenty of UK companies preparing for vertical launch from Scotland in particular, there should be laurels to go around no matter who is first.

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