First Space Launch From New Mexico Set For August

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New Mexico's Spaceport has scheduled its first launch of a spacecraft for Aug. 14. The 20-foot-tall, 800-pound rocket will be fired by UP Aerospace, a Colorado company that designed the craft to carry light payloads into space at low cost. The rocket will carry over 50 payloads and experiments, mostly from high-school and college students. The SpaceLoft XL solid-fuel rocket will accelerate to Mach 5 in 13.5 seconds, reach the edge of space at 62 miles in a minute and a half, and achieve a flight apogee of about 70 miles shortly thereafter, according to Jerry Larson, president of UP Aerospace. The 30-minute flight will be tracked by radar at White Sands Missile Range, providing data that will help the Spaceport get licensed by the FAA. A second UP Aerospace launch is scheduled for October, concurrent with this year's X Prize Cup event. "This launch will put New Mexico's Spaceport on the map," said Rick Homans, of New Mexico's Economic Development Department. "It's the next milestone for the State of New Mexico in continuing our leadership role in the second space age." UP Aerospace plans to conduct up to 30 space launches per year.