Indonesia Launches Experimental Rocket

Space Agency Launches RX-420 Rocket

The country’s space agency successfully launched an unmanned rocket on Thursday, one small step in a plan to get a satellite into orbit by 2014, one of its executives said.

Toto Marnanto Kadri, the head of the Aerospace Electronics Technology Center at the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan), said the RX-420 rocket successfully blasted off into space on Thursday at around 8 a.m. from a launch pad in Pameungpeuk, several kilometers from the town of Garut, West Java.

“This is an experimental rocket. We launched it to measure our work and record information such as rocket trajectory data, height, launch position and so on,” Toto said. “This is part of our efforts to develop rocketry.”

He said data from the launch would be particularly valuable for the agency’s efforts to build its first satellite-deploying rocket, which is scheduled for liftoff in six years.

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Indonesian Launch Capability
Secure World Foundation

In December 2006, the Russian and Indonesian presidents signed an agreement to establish a commercial launch facility on Indonesian territory.[1] According to preliminary reports, this agreement outlines the improvement of a 3.6 kilometer runway at the Frans Kaisieppo Airport on the Indonesian island of Biak Numfor to accommodate Russian Air Launch System (ALS) aircraft. [2,3] The Frans Kaisieppo Airport is ideal because the ALS aircraft—modified versions of the Antonov An-124 heavy-lift plane—require at least 3 kilometers of runway for take-off.[3] Russian officials formally announced their intentions to build a launch facility on Biak in October 2007.[4] Alexey Muraviev of the International Strategic Studies Association in Jakarta argues that the project strengthens security cooperation between Russia and Indonesia, increases foreign investment in Indonesia, and helps Indonesia gain prestigious access to space within its region.[4]

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