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Whalers Way launch postponed after severe storm

The planned launch of Kestrel 1 at Whalers Way has been postponed until further notice thanks to storm damage (Above). The ATSpace Kestrel 1 launch vehicle suffered multiple lightning strikes. Payload and satellite suppliers will have to wait to see it go (top): from left to right: Dr Matt Below (Inovor Technologies), Dr Yen Sen Chen of ATSpace, Dr Ian Spencer and Mr Lloyd Damp of Southern Launch. Images: Southern Launch

A planned launch from Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex in South Australia has been postponed after severe weather caused an electrical fault to the ATSpace Kestrel 1 launch vehicle.

Severe thunderstorms, high winds and heavy rain struck the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex over the weekend of 12-13 November. Over 423,000 lightning strikes were recorded in South Australia as the strong storm front moved across the state. 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.

“It’s unfortunate that the severe lightning storm over the weekend has affected the planned launch of the Kestrel I rocket” said ATSpace CEO Dr Yen-Sen Chen. “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.”

Onboard the Kestrel I when it does launch will be a spacecraft designed by Inovor Technologies integrated with payloads designed by Asension and Southern Launch.

Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said, “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.

“The setup of our Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex over the past week has been a great success for the Southern Launch team,” said Lloyd Damp. “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.

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