The New Mexico-based US South West Regional Spaceport, which expects to gain its licence in 2006, will host its first unmanned suborbital vehicle launch by Connecticut-based UP Aerospace in March next year.

The launch date was announced on 7 September on the steps of the New Mexico State Capitol building in Santa Fe by the state’s governor, William Richardson, and UP Aerospace’s senior management.

The UP Aerospace vehicle will carry seven experimental and commercial payloads for a variety of educational institutions and businesses.

UP Aerospace has two launchers to offer customers and claims it could launch 30 rockets a year. The Spaceloft rocket is a 4.57m (15ft) -long, 203mm (8in) -diameter vehicle that can reach 128km (80 miles) with 44kg (20lb) of payload. The Spaceloft XL is a 6.4m-long, 245mm-diameter launcher that can carry a 242kg payload to 161km.

The payloads will land in the spaceport’s downrange area.

Source: Flight International