ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Rugged terrain, bad weather delay efforts to retrieve SpaceLoft SL-2.
UP Aerospace's 20-foot SpaceLoft SL-2 rocket made a successful launch into suborbital space last Saturday from New Mexico's fledgling Spaceport America launch site in southern Otero County, but the rocket itself — with its payloads on board, including the cremains of more than 200 people — has yet to be recovered, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Efforts to recover the rocket have been hampered by the rugged terrain in a mountainous area of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico Spaceport Authority Director Rick Homans told the Sun-News.
And thunderstorms over the area in the past few days have further complicated recovery efforts, the Sun-News said.
"We've been hard at it since Saturday," Jerry Larson, president of UP Aerospace, told the Sun-News. "It actually landed in a mountainous area, and we found the booster portion of it on Monday. We know the area and we weren't able to get up there (on Wednesday) because of bad weather."
Larson told the paper that the booster portion has been visually located, and that the payload portion of the rocket has been pinpointed through a tracking device on board.
Saturday's launch — the first successful commercial rocket launch from the planned $198 million spaceport — reached a height of 384,000 feet, or about 72 miles, before parachuting back to earth on the missile range, according to the Albuquerque Journal story on Sunday.
It was the second try from the launch site south of Truth or Consequences, with the first launch last September falling short of its goal of reaching suborbital space, the Journal reported.
It took more than a week to find and retrieve the badly damaged remains of the first rocket with its experiments and payloads, the Journal's Andrew Webb reported.