The maiden flight of Spain's Miura 1 rocket, twice suspended in recent weeks, has now been delayed until September over fears its launch could start a wildfire, its developer said Tuesday.
Built by private Spanish startup PLD Space, the rocket had initially been scheduled for take-off from El Arenosillo, a coastal military base in the southwestern province of Huelva, on May 31, but was called off due to high winds.
It was then aborted for a second time on June 17 due to a last-minute technical problem.
After talks with the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA), "PLD Space... has postponed the launch of Miura 1 until next September," it said in a statement.
"The postponement is motivated by obligatory compliance with the prevention of forest fires... as well as the high temperatures" in southern Spain "to ensure the safety of the area where the launch is carried out".
The announcement came as Spain was in the grip of its first summer heatwave, with Monday's temperatures hitting a peak of 44.4 degrees Celsius (111.9 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Huelva province.
The soaring temperatures, expected to last until Thursday, raise the risk of forest fires, which has also been heightened by an ongoing drought.
PLD Space's Miura 1, named after a breed of fighting bull, is a small sub-orbital launch vehicle that stands a mere 12 metres (40 feet) tall and is capable of placing objects in space.
When it launches, the rocket is slated to fly just 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Earth's surface, carrying sensors to study microgravity conditions on a flight that will last 12 minutes.
While that distance would put it in outer space, the rocket is not powerful enough to reach orbit.
The aim is ultimately to use the data for integration into the Miura 5, a larger orbital micro-launcher with parts that can be recovered and reused, which PLD hopes will place small satellites of up to 450 kilograms (around half a ton) into orbit from 2025.
Following an agreement signed last week, the Miura 5 will ultimately be launched from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, according to PLD Space, which is aiming to be the first private European firm to put a reusable satellite launcher into space.
Companies are rushing to develop launchers to address a growing satellite market, with some 18,500 small systems due to be launched in the coming decade, Euroconsult analysts say.
© Agence France-Presse
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