Whoops. Seems there is a
slight problem in the aftermath of the successful April 29 launch of UP
Aerospace's SpaceLoft XL from New Mexico's Spaceport
America. Nearly two weeks have passed, and no one has been
able to find the rocket.
That means the cremains of actor James Doohan -- "Scotty" from
the original "Star Trek" telvision series -- and Mercury astronaut
Gordon Cooper, along with 198 other individuals, are also missing,
at least for the moment. (Editor's Note:
Initial reports on launch day, carried by Aero-News, indicated the
rocket was recovered shortly after it returned from its brief trip
72 miles above the Earth. Apparently, not so much. ANN regrets the
So, why the missing rocket? Susan Schonfeld, spokeswoman for
Space Services Inc -- the company that organized the "memorial
spaceflight" -- says the rocket descended by parachute into a
particularly rugged portion of New Mexico terrain. Also, recent
"horrendous" weather in the Land of Enchantment hasn't helped
UP Aerospace president Jerry Larson told Fox News search crews
know the approximate location of the rocket, within a roughly
1,300-foot radius, thanks to telemetry data provided by nearby
White Sands Missile Range.
Problem is, the search area includes the side of a mountain.
"The terrain is very mountainous; it's not somewhere that you
can walk or drive to. My understanding is that it will take some
time to get up into there," Schonfeld told Reuters by telephone.
"They know the general location, and we have the utmost confidence
that they will recover it."
Also flown into space onboard the SL-2 Mission were dozens of
student experiments -- from elementary schools to high schools to
universities, from across America and worldwide, according to UP
Aerospace. Those experiments are also missing.
Coincidentally, search crews also had difficulties
recovering UP Aerospace's first SpaceLoft XL,
following the company's initial launch attempt last year. That
mission ended prematurely, as the rocket fell back to earth roughly
10 seconds after launch. Unusually lush vegetation, combined with
the rugged terrain, hampered search efforts for five days.