NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program Flies Experiments into Space

Successful launch of SL-7 from Spaceport America on June 21, 2013. (Credit: Spaceport America)
Successful launch of SL-7 from Spaceport America on June 21, 2013. (Credit: Spaceport America)

Spaceport America, NM (NMSA PR) – New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) officials announced the launch today of the first NASA “Flight Opportunities Program” rocket designed to reach sub-orbital space. The public launch of SpaceLoft™ XL 7 (S-7) took place this morning from Spaceport America’s Launch Complex-1. This launch marks the 11th flight since 2006 at Spaceport America conducted by UP Aerospace and the 19th overall flight from the spaceport.

The successful launch of NASA’s SL-7 commercial-space, research-payload rocket took place at approximately 7:57 AM (MDT), which was within the dedicated 2.25 hour launch window, and flight data indicates the rocket attained a maximum altitude of approximately 119 km (74 miles). The parachute recovery system brought the SpaceLoft™ rocket and its payload safely back and was recovered intact 37.8 km (23.5 miles) downrange on White Sands Missile Range as planned

“We are very excited at Spaceport America to be providing launch services for NASA’s first ‘Flight Opportunities’ sub-orbital launch today,” said NMSA Executive Director Christine Anderson. “We look forward to working with NASA in the future as their work expands at Spaceport America. We will see both NASA and the UP Aerospace teams back here at the spaceport this fall to launch their SL-8 rocket.”

The SL-7 sub-orbital sounding rocket launch today is part of the NASA “Flight Opportunities Program,” which is designed to provide suborbital payload launch resources for NASA and other government agencies, as well as for educational institutions and the private sector. Some of the “Flight Opportunities” payload customers for this launch include: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense (DOD), NASA, Celestis, Inc. and various middle schools, high schools and universities around New Mexico.



UP Aerospace was created in 1998 by founder Jerry Larson and incorporated in 2004 with its headquarters located in Denver, Colorado. UP Aerospace has been successfully conducting launches from Spaceport America in New Mexico since 2006. With this launch, the company has conducted a total of 11 launch campaigns from the spaceport, of which seven were SpaceLoft launch vehicles and four additional launches of proprietary systems for Lockheed Martin and MOOG. UP Aerospace’s launch operations and SpaceLoft vehicles are designed and built from the ground up as a highly reliable, low-cost Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) system.  Flight hardware reusability has been a key program requirement for the SpaceLoft launch program, enabling further advancements in low-cost space launch operations.  UP Aerospace has successfully demonstrated and refined launch and integration services spanning over six years and 50 individual payload customers.

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Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, has been providing commercial vertical launch services since 2006. Spaceport America has hosted 18 vertical launches thus far. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority continues to work closely with its tenants, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, and its other flight customers in support of the commercial space industry.

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