Private firm to launch maiden rocket flight in Spain

"This rocket, when it is launched, we Spaniards we will all watch it on television and I know that when, within several weeks MIURA1 will begin its journey, the devotion and hard work of many people ... will have been worthwhile," Sanchez said at the El Arenosillo launch site at Huelva, in Andalusia.

PLD Space's MIURA1 sub-orbital launcher is intended to carry out up to four missions a year and possibly take cargo "into space and bring it back safely", according to the startup's website.

"Your dream is shared by all of Spanish society because we are led by a common goal, that is to put Spain at the forefront of this space transport industry, which is not only emerging but also powerful," the PM added.

After MIURA1, the company plans to develop in 2024 a re-usable small launch vehicle, dubbed MIURA5, to put small satellites into orbit.

Besides Spain, Britain, Portugal, Germany and Iceland are all running projects to put satellites into orbit.

Sanchez's announcement came on the same day the world's first 3D printed rocket, built by California aerospace startup Relativity Space, was to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Spain's PLD Space launches private rocket

Spanish company PLD Space has launched its reusable Miura-1 rocket from a site in southwest Spain, carrying out Europe's first fully private rocket launch and offering hope for its stalled space ambitions.

The Miura-1 rocket, named after a breed of fighting bull, is as tall as a three-storey building and has a 100kg cargo capacity.

Europe's efforts to develop capabilities to send small satellites into space are in focus after a failed orbital rocket launch by Virgin Orbit from Britain in January.

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