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The Spanish company PLD parades its Miura 1 space rocket through the Madrid arena

The first national private launcher is presented in the Spanish capital before its take-off at the end of 2022
PHOTO/PLD

PHOTO/PLD  -   The Miura 1 is a project of the Spanish company PLD Space. Based in Elche (Alicante), its test beds are located at Teruel airport, where the image was taken a few days before its arrival in Madrid.

Spain's first private suborbital launcher is now a reality. Its name is Miura 1 and, just like the bulls of the prestigious bull-breeding bull-ranch, its presentation in society is taking place in the bullring of Madrid, where it can be seen during the weekend of 12-15 November and at the timetable shown at the end of the text.

The Miura 1 is a project of the company PLD Space, an initiative born from the impulse of two young entrepreneurs, Raúl Torres and Raúl Verdú, who in 2011 founded the company with the audacity of wanting to make the first nationally produced space transport vehicle a reality. Today, their dream and the process of its development can be seen on the esplanade in front of the National Museum of Natural Sciences, next to the Paseo de la Castellana, in the heart of Madrid. 

Miura 1 is stationed there for the rest of the weekend, before returning to Teruel airport, where it will undergo a 5-month campaign of combined qualification tests to confirm that all its on-board equipment is suitable for its inaugural take-off, known as "TestFlight-1", scheduled for the end of 2022.

PHOTO/Atrevia - Raúl Verdú y Raúl Torres, en los extremos de la imagen, junto al presidente de la compañía, Ezequiel Sanchez, explican los pormenores de un proyecto que comenzó en 2011 y ya está camino de hacerse realidad
PHOTO/Atrevia - Raúl Verdú and Raúl Torres, at the ends of the picture, together with the company's president, Ezequiel Sanchez, explain the details of a project that began in 2011 and is already on its way to becoming a reality.

Once it has passed the tests at the integral test bench in Teruel, it will leave for the "El Arenosillo" Experimentation Centre (CEDEA), on the coast of Huelva, belonging to the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA), a facility equipped to fire and evaluate rockets, missiles and unmanned aircraft. There, the compatibility of the Miura 1 with ground control and monitoring infrastructures will be verified. Once qualified for flight by INTA, it will take off from CEDEA. After reaching 150 kilometres, it will return to the ground and land over the Atlantic, supported by two parachutes, some 70 kilometres off the coast of Huelva. 

In parallel to the Miura 1 project, PLD Space is working on the development of the Miura 5 project. The Miura 1 is a recoverable suborbital micro launcher demonstrator, capable of placing objects in space, but not in orbit around the Earth. Weighing around 2,550 kilos, it consists of a single stage 12.45 metres high and 0.7 metres in diameter, is powered by a single liquid-fuelled rocket engine and can fly to a maximum altitude of 150 kilometres and then drop a payload of about 100 kilos.

PHOTO/PLD - El micro lanzador Miura 1 despegará desde el Centro de Experimentación de “El Arenosillo”, en la costa de Huelva. Tras alcanzar los 150 kilómetros de altura, retornará a la tierra y caerá en el Atlantico sustentado por dos paracaídas a unos 70 kilómetros de la costa
PHOTO/PLD - The Miura 1 micro-launcher will take off from the "El Arenosillo" Experimentation Centre on the coast of Huelva. After reaching an altitude of 150 kilometres, it will return to earth and land in the Atlantic Ocean, supported by two parachutes, some 70 kilometres off the coast.
The goal is in the Miura 5 commercial launcher

The Miura 5, on the other hand, is much larger, has greater capabilities and is designed to be the first Spanish commercial recoverable launcher. Made up of two stages, its height is 26 metres, its diameter is 1.8 metres and it has five rocket engines, each one four times more powerful than the Miura 1.

The five engines allow it to climb to an altitude of around 500 kilometres, at which altitude it can orbit small satellites weighing up to 500 kilos and carry out experiments in microgravity. It will take off in 2024 from French Guiana, where the French Space Agency "is preparing a launch ramp on the basis of one already used for out-of-use rockets", said Raúl Torres.

PHOTO/JPons - El Miura 1 se puede visitar en la explanada frente al Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, junto al paseo de la Castellana, en pleno centro de Madrid. La imagen recoge a Raúl Torres, responsable ejecutivo y uno de los dos fundadores de PLD Space
PHOTO/JPons - The Miura 1 can be visited on the esplanade in front of the National Museum of Natural Sciences, next to the Paseo de la Castellana, in the heart of Madrid. The image shows Raúl Torres, CEO and one of the two founders of PLD Space.

PLD has achieved a broad synergy between the two rockets, so that "the Miura 5 uses 70 percent of the technology developed for the Miura 1", says Raúl Torres, PLD's chief executive officer. In the opinion of the president, Ezequiel Sánchez, there is a possibility that Spain could become "the fourteenth country with an autonomous capacity to access space". This will be a reality provided that the Miura 1 and Miura 5 are successful in a continuous series of launches.

In addition, they will have to demonstrate that they are reliable space launchers, capable of competing on the international market in terms of cost and payload capacity. Others like them have already made their first qualification flights or are under development in Europe and elsewhere.

PHOTO/PLD - Prueba de recuperación en el mar de la primera etapa del futuro Miura 5. Tuvo lugar en abril de 2019 ante técnicos de la ESA. Un helicóptero CH-47D Chinook soltó un demostrador a tamaño real desde 16.500 pies, a la altura de la localidad de Mazagón
PHOTO/PLD - Sea recovery test of the first stage of the future Miura 5. It took place in April 2019 in front of ESA technicians. A CH-47D Chinook helicopter dropped a full-size demonstrator from 16,500 feet above the town of Mazagón.

In order to finalise the fine-tuning of the Miura 1 and 5 projects, Ezequiel Sanchez anticipated that "PLD needs to grow". Throughout 2022 we have to "increase the workforce by more than a hundred people", which means "more than doubling" the company's current number of professionals. This increase means hiring engineers and also vocational training technicians "from specialities such as mechanisation and electronics", emphasises Raúl Torres.

At-sea recovery trials are completed

Except for the actual liftoff, the dynamic validation tests of Miura 1 and Miura 5 are now complete. The at-sea recovery validation of the Miura 5 first stage took place in April 2019 in front of ESA technicians. A CH-47D Chinook helicopter from the Transport Helicopter Battalion V (BHELTRA V) of the Spanish Army Airmobile Forces (FAMET) successfully dropped a full-size demonstrator from 16,500 feet (5 kilometres) off the town of Mazagón.

PHOTO/JPons - En la puesta de largo del Miura 1 en Madrid estuvo el director general del INTA, el teniente general José María Salom. Aquí, junto al presidente de PLD Space, Ezequiel Sánchez
PHOTO/JPons - The launch of the Miura 1 in Madrid was attended by the Director General of INTA, Lieutenant General José María Salom. Here, together with the president of PLD Space, Ezequiel Sánchez.

PLD's headquarters are in Elche (Alicante), with technical facilities in Teruel, Huelva and French Guiana. The company has already raised more than 36 million euros in financing to develop its two projects. Private investors include Spanish aerospace companies such as GMV and Aciturri, and public investors include the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), ESA and the European Commission. 

The launch of the MIURA 1 space rocket was attended by the Director General of the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA), Lieutenant General José María Salom, and the Director of Space, Large Installations and Dual Programmes of the CDTI, Juan Carlos Cortés. They were joined by Amparo Martínez Bonafé, Director General of Industry of the Generalitat Valenciana; Jorge Alarte, representative of the regional institution in Madrid; and the mayors of Elche and Teruel, Carlos González Serna and Emma Buj, respectively.

PHOTO/PLD - La compañía PLD Space ocupó en sus orígenes unas pequeñas oficinas en Elche. Hoy se han convertido en unas grandes instalaciones, donde se ha desarrollado la ingeniería y el montaje del micro lanzador Miura 1
PHOTO/PLD - PLD Space originally occupied small offices in Elche. Today they have become large facilities, where the engineering and assembly of the Miura 1 micro launcher has been developed.

Access to see the Miura 1 and to visit the exhibition that accompanies it on the esplanade in front of the National Museum of Natural Sciences, next to Paseo de la Castellana, in the centre of Madrid, is free of charge from 15:00 hours on Friday, 12th November. On Saturday, 13 November, the exhibition will be open from 10:00 to 20:00. And on Sunday, 14 November, the opening hours will be from 10:00 to 18:00.