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.
In a statement on the agency’s Web site, Lapan Chief Adi Sadewo Salatun said the launch had gone well. He stated that Lapan had managed to gather all of the key data from the launch’s first 10 seconds, information referred to as the “golden data.”
Toto said the rocket, with a diameter of 42 centimeters at its widest point, is the thickest rocket launched in the country so far. He said it fell to Earth after just a few minutes after blasting off, when its fuel ran out at a peak height of about 50 kilometers.
The 6.2-meter rocket carried a GPS device, an accelerometer and a temperature sensor.
He said that the launch was also a key advance for other components of the agency’s research program, such as a plan to send its first satellites into orbit in 2010. That project would carry remote-sensing surveillance and amateur radio communication equipment.
Lapan carried out a stationary test on RX-420 on Dec. 23 in Tarogong, West Java. Last year, the agency launched two smaller 32-cm diameter RX-320 rockets, also from the base in Pameungpeuk. The Lapan A-2 and Lapan-Orari satellites are to piggyback into orbit on an Indian rocket slated for launch in April. Lapan expects to finish those satellites by February.