Unusually Lush Vegetation Hindered Search Effort
What once was launched,
has now been found in southern New Mexico... where UP Aerospace
reports after five days of searching the not-so-arid desert
landscape, it found the landing site Saturday of its unmanned
SpaceLoft XL vehicle.
Company personnel are now in the process of recovering the
payloads and returning them back to their launch partners.
"Our recovery efforts began almost immediately after the launch
and have continued around the clock," said Eric Knight, CEO of UP
Aerospace. "The vehicle came down in very challenging terrain,
complicated by the unusual levels of vegetation caused by the
record-setting monsoon rains this summer."
"But we were absolutely determined to find the vehicle and
provide the payloads and experiments back to our launch partners,"
he continued. "We've spoken to our launch partners this morning,
and they're ecstatic over the news of the recovery."
As Aero-News reported, UP
Aerospace heralded in the dawn of private spaceflight in New Mexico
last Monday, with the launch of its 20-foot-long SpaceLoft XL.
Alas, the flight proved to be a less-than-successful christening of
the new Spaceport America site... with the rocket falling to Earth
approximately 10 seconds after it was launched.
Despite the setback, UP Aerospace remains optimistic whatever
issue brought down its first rocket will not prove to be a problem
with future launches... although an in-depth investigation of what
led to the failure Monday can only now begin.
"Until all facts are assembled, all possibilities remain on the
table," said UP Aerospace president Jerry Larson at a Friday news
conference. "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."
UP Aerospace is scheduling up to 30 space launches per year from
New Mexico's "Spaceport America". The company states the SpaceLoft
XL vehicle can launch up to 110 pounds of scientific, educational,
and entrepreneurial payloads into space, with an altitude
capability of up to 140 miles. Monday's flight was to fly to an
apogee of about 70 miles.