Weekend lightning damages rocket, postponing Whalers Way launch

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

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

ATSpace CEO Dr Yen-Sen Chen said severe thunderstorm activity had seen the planned launch “pushed back until further notice”.

Kestrel is a 10-meter two-stage sub-orbital rocket developed by the Korean company ATSpace, and which was to reach a altitude of more than 200 kilometers above the Earth.

Four SA companies were involved in the Mission VS03: 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,” Chen said.

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

“We are taking every precaution at the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex to protect our customers’ assets as well as our own systems,” Damp said.

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

Robert M. Larson