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Weather delays launch of Taiwan's first domestically-built rocket

HAPITH-I could break world record for longest distance traveled by rocket of its kind


HAPITH-I (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The trial launch of Taiwan's first domestically-built rocket was canceled at the last minute due to poor weather conditions.

The Taiwan aerospace company, TiSPACE Inc., scheduled the launch of HAPITH-I, (飛鼠一號), at 6 a.m., on Thursday (Feb. 13), outside the coastal village of Nantian, Taitung County. The company delayed take-off for nearly an hour, until 6:56 a.m., then announced a halt to the launch.

TiSPACE Chairman Chen Yen-sen (陳彥升) is a former Washington-based NASA scientist, involved in several American military-driven aerospace projects. He told media a heavy overnight downpour made conditions unsuitable for the launch.

The company released several weather balloons to gather data before the launch of the hybrid-propellant rocket. The data showed strong winds that could have affected the flight, Chen added.

He said the team decided to halt the mission for safety reasons. He also announced there would be another trial launch in 1.5 to 2 months.

Three years after retiring from Taiwan's National Space Organization (NSPO), Chen established the country's first privately-owned aerospace company and built a permanent launch base in Nantian, Taitung.

The rocket was initially scheduled to launch on Dec. 27 but was postponed due to a protest from the indigenous Seljupetje tribe living adjacent to the launch base. After a month-long negotiation, the company was given the green light to launch and the tribe even offered to perform a traditional ritual prayer for a smooth take-off.