Delft record-breaking rocket launch attempt fails at last minute

DARE rocket launch Spain
In mission control with 20 minutes on the countdown clock. Oct. 15, 2015 (photo: DARE / Facebook). (In mission control with 20 minutes on the countdown clock. Oct. 15, 2015 (photo: DARE / Facebook))

The scheduled launch of a Stratos II+ rocket in southern Spain failed Thursday afternoon in what would have been an attempt at a world record by a team from TU Delft. The countdown for the rocket should have seen it blast off the launch pad at about 4:25 p.m., with a goal of hitting an altitude of 50 kilometers.

“We seem to have failed to ignite the engine,” the Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering team announced on Facebook. The team said they would try to figure out what went wrong, but affirmed that they would not attempt to launch the device again on Thursday.

A new launch date and time was not scheduled as of 5 p.m.

“The cause of the failure is currently not known. The rocket will now be 'safed' which means that it is secured,” DARE said. The process includes emptying the fuel tanks and disconnecting all electrical systems.

Following that, it will be removed from the site and inspected.

“While this failure is a bummer to team we've been there before. Last year the main oxidizer valve froze shut,” they added. The valve was not the cause of Thursday’s issue, video showed.

The student team designed a fuel made from candle wax and artificial sweetener to power their rocket. They hope to be the first student team to send a rocket into space by firing a rocket across the Kármán line, a point 100 kilometers above sea level.