ELCHE startup PLD Space launched the first-ever private European rocket into orbit on Saturday morning.
After two postponements in the spring, the first launch of Miura 1 took place at 2.19am from Huelva.
The flight lasted 306 seconds with Miura 1 reaching a maximum altitude of 46 kilometres, before falling back down to Earth and splashing into the Atlantic Ocean, where it was recovered a few hours later.
The journey was not as long as the originally planned 12 minutes, and the altitude was half that had been projected, but the launch was deemed a success.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: “This is a milestone that positions Spain’s research and development at the forefront of space transportation.”
It means that Spain is only one of 10 countries that have launched into space.
“This launch culminates over 12 years of relentless effort, yet it marks just the start of our journey,” said Raul Torres, PLD Space’s launch director and co-founder.
Miura 1, is a suborbital microlauncher designed with a two-fold mission: delivering commercial payloads to space and back, and enabling research and technology development in microgravity conditions.
It is the first European rocket designed to be recoverable and is a test vehicle for the much larger Miura 5 which is expected to launch in 2025 and enter service the following year.
The orbital rocket, which features a reusable first stage, will fly from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.