Weekend lightning damages rocket, postponing Whalers Way launch

A mission from Southern Launch’s Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex has been postponed, with ATSpace’s Kestrel I rocket needing to be repaired off-site following prolonged electrical storm activity over the weekend.

According to a statement from Southern Launch, over 423,000 lightning strikes were recorded over the weekend in South Australia.

ATSpace CEO Dr Yen-Sen Chen said the severe lightning storm activity has seen the planned launch “scrubbed until further notice.” 

Kestrel is a 10-metre, two stage, sub-orbital rocket developed by Korean-owned ATSpace, and which was planned to reach an altitude of over 200 kilometres above Earth.

Four SA companies were involved in the VS03 mission: Southern Launch, ATSpace, Asension and Inovor Technologies. 

“ATSpace will carry out thorough checks of the rocket system and we will resume the launch campaign as soon as possible,” said Chen.

Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said the volume of lightning strikes in the area was unprecedented and the damage to the rocket unfortunate.

“We take every precaution at Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex to protect our customer’s assets along with our own systems,” said Damp.

Picture: Chen and Damp at the launch announcement earlier this year (credit Southern Launch)


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