Private company launches rocket in N.M.
UPHAM, N.M. - An Orlando, Fla.-based avionics company successfully fired a low-altitude rocket Monday, conducting the test at a new spaceport in New Mexico where the state hopes to launch commercial space flights within two years.
Officials at the New Mexico Spaceport said such tests are important steps toward viable space travel at the site.
“This is the precursor to huge things, multibillion projects,’’ spaceport director Steve Landeene said. “You’ve got to prove it’s viable.’’
Moog Industries of Orlando fired the rocket after a roughly 90-minute delay brought on by a glitch in a GPS antenna that had to be replaced. The delay led to postponement of a planned second launch that would have represented the first time a private company completed two liftoffs from the same site in one day.
New Mexico Spaceport officials said the research and development test is important because it demonstrates commercial applications beyond $200,000 space flights for tourists that Virgin Galactic plans to operate within two years.
Recovery teams were sent out to retrieve the used rocket for evaluation, and the window to launch expired as officials examined it.
Ray Nielsen, chief engineer for Moog Industries, said the flight of the 8-foot-long prototype vehicle he termed a rocket glider accomplished “100 percent of its objectives.’’