New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) officials announced the launch this week of the third NASA “Flight Opportunities Program” rocket from Spaceport America. The launch of SpaceLoftTM XL 9 (SL-9), which was designed to reach sub-orbital space, took place Thursday morning, October 23 from Spaceport America’s Launch Complex-1.
The liftoff marks the 21st launch at Spaceport America and the 13th flight conducted by UP Aerospace, the spaceport’s oldest launch customer. NASA successfully launched two similar research rockets from the spaceport last year. The successful launch of NASA’s SL-9 commercial-space research- payload rocket took place at 7:33 AM (MDT), which was within the dedicated two-hour launch window. Flight data indicates the rocket attained a maximum altitude of approximately 124 km or 77 miles, beating the old Spaceport America altitude record by four miles. The parachute recovery system brought the rocket and its payload safely back and was recovered intact 25 miles downrange on White Sands Missile Range as planned.
“It’s great to see NASA return to Spaceport America for another successful ‘Flight Opportunities’ sub-orbital launch mission today,” said NMSA Executive Director Christine Anderson. “We also want to congratulate UP Aerospace, who has been launching with us for eight years.”
The SL-9 sub-orbital sounding rocket, provided by UP Aerospace, is part of the NASA “Flight Opportunities Program,” which is designed to provide sub-orbital payload launch resources for NASA, educational institutions and the private sector. Some of the “Flight Opportunities” payload customers for this launch include: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Controlled Dynamics, Barcelona Tec: NASA test payload, Montana State University: NASA test payload, Celestis, Inc. and the Ninkasi Brewing Company…