PLD Space Strengthens its Position at the Forefront of European Space Race

PLD Space Strengthens its Position at the Forefront of European Space Race

The analysis of the data collected by the Spanish company PLD Space after the launch of their MIURA 1 rocket shows that the mission has been "a complete success". 100% of the main objectives have been achieved and all the technologies developed by the company have been validated in flight. This is a milestone that positions PLD Space as the only European private company with launch capability in Europe today.

"The success rate of a first launch in the space industry is only 45%," says PLD Space Executive President Ezequiel Sánchez. To reduce these high levels of uncertainty and risk, the Spanish company has always been committed to testing each subsystem, as well as all the systems as a whole. "Space works on the basis of learning, and we got everything right the first time because, from the beginning, we adopted a strategy based on 'trial and error'," he says. 

"We have experienced a series of many ‘first accomplishments’," emphasizes Co-founder and Launch Director Raúl Torres at a press conference. "We have become the first private company in Europe to launch a rocket, the first Spanish company to achieve a goal that positions the country with a new capability, the first in Europe to develop and launch a liquid fuel engine powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen (KeroLOX), the first space launch from continental Europe and the first space launch of European space technology startups," states Torres.

MIURA 1 test flight meets all objectives

During the last two weeks, PLD Space has collected data and performed a first analysis of the launch of MIURA 1. The mission, which took place in the early morning of October 7th, went according to all the planned parameters, both in the behavior of all the subsystems and the execution of the operations.

The flight had a total duration of 306 seconds, reaching an altitude of 46 kilometers. "We reached apogee with the correct attitude of the vehicle," said Torres. The rocket managed to enter microgravity conditions and eject the individual photos of the team and their families. It was also possible to collect data from the onboard experiment of the German Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) and, following the tradition of first launches, PLD Space integrated a cheese in the payload bay of the rocket. The cheese chosen was the TGT Group's Ahuyentalobos.

As for the re-entry, the supersonic phase was successful and the aerodynamic control and stability results were better than expected, highlighting the behavior of the aerobrakes used to brake and stabilize the vehicle. The subsonic phase of the flight was also stable. The ejection of the braking parachute was performed correctly and opened as planned.

The mission concluded with the splashdown of the launcher in the Atlantic Ocean, which occurred within the planned impact zone. As for one of the secondary objectives, the recovery of the launcher, the information obtained indicates that the contact with the water was lateral and caused one of the two main tanks to rupture, filling with water and sinking the vehicle.

"In the impact area, no floating debris was found, which indicates that the vehicle, apart from one of the tanks, remained intact," said Torres. After eight hours of search operations, with the support of the Spanish Army, PLD Space decided to abort the activity.

"All launch operations were carried out as planned and without any mishap," concludes the Co-founder. The excellent results obtained in the first flight of MIURA 1 provide PLD Space with a "complete technological know-how" in the development of space launchers and demonstrate its technological maturity, as well as the wisdom of betting on a "greater vertical integration of all technologies". 

The company is already applying the 'lessons learnt' to its orbital rocket, MIURA 5, which will make its first flight in 2025 from the European spaceport CSG, in Kourou (French Guiana), and will place satellites of up to 500kg in polar orbit and up to one ton in an equatorial orbit.

"From MIURA 1 to MIURA 5 we transferred more than a thousand points of subsystem improvement," Torres stresses. "Thanks to MIURA 1, MIURA 5 will be a better rocket." This first flight mission has demonstrated the speed, scalability, reliability, and confidence in the development of the program, allowing PLD Space to have its orbital launcher ready in just two years. In fact, development of all MIURA 5 subsystems is proceeding apace. "Engineering is in the very advanced stages and we plan to do the first subsystem tests by the end of 2023," the Launch Director indicates.

A solid and growing business strategy

Currently, there is a mismatch between global demand and supply for satellite and small satellite launches. On the one hand, the small satellite launch market is estimated to grow to $28.4 billion by 2031, a figure that represents an increase of 274%, according to a report by Euroconsult. However, while demand for commercial services is growing exponentially, with the cessation of Ariane 5 activity, Europe's space access capacity has been reduced to zero for the first time in more than 40 years.

To respond to this need, PLD Space has built a unique value proposition and innovation around its MIURA 5. "We offer space transportation to small satellite operators through a service based on exclusive dedication, flexibility, reliability and sustainability", highlights Co-founder and CBDO, Raúl Verdú.

This customized service is being very well received by small satellite operators. In fact, PLD Space has commercial interests worth 320 million euros, a figure that validates its proposal and business model.

MIURA 5 commercial launches will begin in 2026 with the goal of carrying out 30 commercial flights per year by 2030. "Getting there first is important, but it's no use if the company is not based on a robust and efficient model that is financially sustainable in the medium and long term," says Verdú.

Leading the drive for a unique launcher industry in Europe

The development and manufacture of MIURA 5 involves the creation of a unique space launcher industry in Europe. The goal is not to make a rocket but to establish a specialized supply chain that will put Spain at the epicenter of the European space sector, for which private-public collaboration is also key.

"The cost of entry into the space launcher industry is very high, but this barrier allows us to exploit our advantage for a long time and thus obtain a sustained impact," stresses CEO Ezequiel Sanchez. "We have not developed a software application but have been able to create deep-tech hardware from scratch."

PLD Space is making good progress in the development of our industrialization, both in terms of infrastructure, which now totals 150,000 square meters, and in attracting highly qualified international talent. It currently employs more than 150 people from 12 countries and the company plans to double its workforce to 300 employees by 2024.

Click here to learn PLD Space's Launch Vehicle Platforms.

Publisher: SatNow

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013