Wednesday, November 4, 2015

'Super Strypi' Rocket Explodes Shortly After Launch


The U.S. Navy along with the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office, in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Hawaiʻi’s Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory, the Pacific Missile Range Facility and Aerojet Rocketdyne Corp. launched the first rocket from Hawaiʻi. After take-off, the experimental launch vehicle experienced an anomaly. Video shot by a spectator near Kauai's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Tuesday shows the "Super Strypi" launcher breaking up in flight. ORS is currently assessing the cause.

The rocket was launched from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauaʻi, through a mission known as ORS-4. The mission was sponsored by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Operationally Responsive Space Office and was the first launch of the Super Strypi launch system. The rocket was carrying UH’s hyperspectral imager as the primary payload, along with 12 cubesats in an integrated payload stack.

"The ORS-4 mission on an experimental Super Strypi launch vehicle failed in mid-flight shortly after liftoff at 5:45 p.m.," the Air Force said, in a statement Tuesday night

Despite the vehicle issue, the project is still a tremendous success for University of Hawaiʻi. About 150 students worked on the payload, a hyperspectral imager called HiakaSat. All milestones for the payload were met and the students received real-world aerospace experience in building a sophisticated satellite.

"Despite what happened today, this is a tremendous success for the University of Hawaii," UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said.

"We had about 150 students work on this program. They built a satellite. It met every milestone. It passed every test and they delivered it on time," Meisenzahl said. 

Because of this project, there is now a rocket launch pad and rail launcher in place at Pacific Missle Range Facility and those assets performed well today. There are also tracking stations in place at Kauaʻi Community College and Honolulu Community College that are fielding requests for services from commercial agencies. UH students at multiple campuses, including the community colleges, are currently working on payloads for future space launches.

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