Super Strypi rocket launch fails in Hawaii

By Ryan Maass  |  Nov. 4, 2015 at 10:08 AM
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KAUAI, Hawaii, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The Super Strypi rocket, the first space launch from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range in Kauai, Hawaii, failed shortly after takeoff, the U.S. Air Force confirmed.

The 55-foot rocket was launched to test the new lightweight satellite booster as part of the U.S. Air Force's ORS-4 mission, managed by the Operationally Responsive Space division, which aims to reduce the cost of space missions. ORS-4 aimed to reduce the cost of transporting small satellites to low-Earth orbit. During the demonstration, 13 satellites were held inside the rocket's nose cone.

Video shot near the launch site showed the rocket breaking up during flight.

"The ORS-4 mission on an experimental Super Strypi launch vehicle failed in mid-flight shortly after liftoff at 5:45 p.m.," the Air Force said in a statement.

The rocket, based on a Cold War-era suborbital sounding rocket, was developed by Sandia National Laboratories, Aerojet Rocketdyne and the University of Hawaii. The Air Force spent over $45 million on the mission's development, according to SpaceFlight Now.

The Super Strypi launch vehicle is fastened to a rail launch system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. Credit: U.S. Air Force

The rocket disintegrated approximately one minute after launch. Despite this, academics involved in the program hailed the launch as a success.

"Despite what happened today, this is a tremendous success for the University of Hawaii," UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl told Hawaii News Now. "We had about 150 students work on this program. They built a satellite. It met every milestone. It passed every test and they delivered it on time."

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