Super Strypi rocket Hawaiian launch met with failure

November 3, the Super Strypi rocket, also known as the Spaceborne Payloads Assist Rocket Kauai (SPARK), launched from Barking Sands in Hawaii. It was a monumental launch given the rocket's name and history. Sadly, within just a minute of its first stage flight, the rocket suffered a failure, causing it to disintegrate. Although all its payload of scientific instruments is now gone forever, the rocket's existence and mission remains, with a possible second attempt next year that, if successful, would herald a more affordable launch system for putting small payloads into orbit.

The Super Strypi is almost like a time traveler, with its pedigree reaching far back as the 1960s, a historic present launch, and a forward-looking vision. Its name was taken from the original XM-33 Strypi military test rocket that the US developed in the 60s. The rocket was meant to be used for high-altitude nuclear testing, carrying a nuclear warhead into the upper atmosphere where it would be detonated. In late 1962, the Strypi was indeed used for such a purpose. It would be the only time the Strypi would be used in a nuclear test. It's launch was also the last time the US detonated a nuclear warhead in the atmosphere.

The launch of the Super Strypi coincided with the 55th anniversary of the first ever rocket launch made from Barking Sands. It was also the first orbital launch from the site and also the first orbital launch from Hawaii.

The Super Strypi is part of the Depart of Defense' Low Earth Orbiting Nanosatellite Integrated Defense Autonomous System or LEONIDAS. It was conceived to eventually become a low cost way to carry small payloads, like scientific instruments or maybe even surveillance equipment, on short notice. In other words, it was supposed to be a way to immediately launch small orbital objects without much fuss, preparation, or cost.

Sadly, the rocket wasn't able to prove that idea in its maiden launch. Live telemetry coverage showed the rocket spinning out of control within a minute of its launch before feeds went blank. Spectator videos, one of which can be seen below, provided part of the puzzle.

The Super Strypi was carrying thirteen spacecrafts, primary of which was the Hyperspectral Imaging and Aeronautical Kinematic Analysis Satellite or HiakaSat, which was to be used as both a technology demonstration as well as an image sensor for geological research. Other satellites include the six-unite satellite Supernova-Beta, NASA's own CubeSats, and Space Dynamic's three-unit satellite STACEM. Sadly, all of these have been lost when the Super Strypi disintegrated. A second Super Strypi launch will be attempted next year, though no date has been given yet.