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Rocket systems error postpones Spaceport Indiana launch


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Spaceport Indiana has canceled an unmanned rocket launch that was scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Columbus Municipal Airport.

An electronic diagnosis of the rocket systems detected a problem that could rest in the thermal sensor, propulsion sensor or the rocket engine, said Brian Tanner, Spaceport’s executive director.

He said the launch would be rescheduled after the problem is identified and fixed. He could not estimate Friday how long that might take.

Spaceport Indiana, a private company out to play a significant role in commercial space flight, was set to begin a series of unmanned rocket launches that would put several different kinds of payloads into space. For example, those include telecommunications products and ozone testing devices for researchers.

The roughly 20-foot-tall rocket originally scheduled to take flight today was supposed to test the workability of a new propulsion system, Tanner said. Because that system was the possible point of the defect, the launch was scratched.

“A delay like this is the same kind you’d see from NASA for any number of reasons,” Tanner said. “You need to know up front that all the systems will operate like you expect.”

People who bought $10 tickets at spaceportindiana.com to watch today’s canceled launch should hold on to their tickets to view the launch at a later date, Tanner said.

A countdown clock on the website as of Friday estimated the delay at more than two weeks. However, Tanner said the clock is a moving target that cannot be reliably used to predict if the rocket will be ready for launch before or after that point.

Tanner had identified this as the first routine launching program for unmanned rockets of various sizes in Indiana history.

The company has been accepting applications from colleges, students and corporate clients from which it will pick three small payloads to put into space up to 200 nautical miles above the Earth’s surface this summer.

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