Message from UP Aerospace: SpaceLoft SL-3 Mission Summary
May 7, 2009
On May 2 at 8:02 AM MT the SpaceLoft SL-3 mission lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, but encountered a problem at the end of the boost phase, that prevented the vehicle from reaching space. After recovery and analysis of the on-board flight recorders we have pinpointed the exact problem with the flight.
Vehicle separation unexpectedly occurred during ascent, due to an incorrect flight parameter.Analysis of the flight data indicated that the backup flight avionics signaled the vehicle to separate the payload section at T+10 seconds.The payload remained with the booster until motor burnout at T+12 seconds when physical separation occurred.
Extensive failure analysis is on going with a rigorous review of the hardware, software and processes of loading and preparing the avionics for flight. A red flag team will perform a complete analysis of these items to eliminate the potential for this failure to occur in the future.
Positive Aspects of This Flight
Launch operations went smoothly up through the launch of the vehicle
The launch occurred at 8:02 AM Mountain Time, only 2 minutes into the 4 hour launch window
Motor burn was good and stage performance was above nominal
The SL-3 launch vehicle set a new Spaceport America speed record of 3,614 mph as measured by multiple radar trackers (old record was 3,410 mph, SL-2 mission, April 2007)
Vehicle stability was exceptional
The payload section and the student experiments were recovered.
We feel confident that the avionics anomaly will be successfully identified and corrected for future SpaceLoft flights and we will have another launch ready to go later in 2009.
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