A planned launch from Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex has been postponed after severe weather caused an electrical fault to the ATSpace launch vehicle.
Severe thunderstorms, high winds and heavy rain struck the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex. Over 423,000 lightning strikes were recorded in South Australia as the strong storm front moved across the state over the weekend. This prolonged electrical storm activity around the launch complex caused damage to the electrical systems of the launch vehicle. ATSpace has advised repairs to the vehicle must be carried out off site.
ATSpace CEO Dr Yen-Sen Chen says, ‘It’s unfortunate that the severe lightning storm over the weekend has affected the planned launch of the Kestrel I rocket. As a result, the launch is scrubbed until further notice. ATSpace will carry out thorough checks of the rocket system and we will resume the launch campaign as soon as possible.’
Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp says, ‘We take every precaution at Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex to protect our customer’s assets along with our own systems. We have infrastructure in place to manage electrical storm activity. The sheer volume of lightning strikes in the area was unprecedented and unfortunately caused damage to the vehicle.’
The lead up to the launch once again proved the capability for the Southern Launch team to set up a state-of-the-art launch facility for customers to use. Lloyd Damp says, ‘The setup of our Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex over the past week has been a great success for the Southern Launch team. Once again we have demonstrated the capability and experience our team has to work with our customers and provide a world-class launch site.’
ATSpace will assess the repairs required for the Kestrel I rocket. Another launch may be attempted in the coming weeks.