Firefly's Alpha rocket explodes on inaugural test launch – Spaceflight Now


Spaceflight Now 02 September, 2021 - 09:39pm 30 views

What time is the Vandenberg launch today?

The rocket launched at 6:59 p.m. KSBY San Luis Obispo NewsFirefly rocket explodes after launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base

Firefly, Cedar Park-based company, launches first rocket 02 September, 2021 - 03:33pm

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CEDAR PARK, Texas — Cedar Park-based aerospace company, Firefly Aerospace, launched its first rocket Sept. 2.

Their orbital rocket, Alpha, launched at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California just before 8:30 p.m. CST. The rocket floated sideways when it first left the ground but began aiming upward soon after.

Alpha lost one of its five engines almost immediately after the launch YouTuber Scott Manley called one of the "more memorable of recent times."

Two attempts were made to launch Alpha. The first was never executed fully due to difficulties. The rocket seemed to explode in the air two minutes and 39 seconds after the launch. 

"Alpha experienced an anomaly during first stage ascent that resulted in the loss of the vehicle. As we gather more information, additional details will be provided," Firefly tweeted. "Prior to entering the countdown, the Range cleared the pad and all surrounding areas to minimize risk to Firefly employees, base staff, and the general public. We are continuing to work with the Range, following all safety protocols."

Alpha experienced an anomaly during first stage ascent that resulted in the loss of the vehicle. As we gather more information, additional details will be provided.

Firefly planned to launch the rocket into the lower Earth orbit.

"While this is spectacular and will be talked about for a very long time, it isn't a good result for Astra, and I really feel sorry for them," Manley said.

While this is FireFly's first scheduled launch, it's one of many launches hosted by private companies.

Elon Musk's SpaceX launched a rocket carrying astronauts from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in April. Later, in July, billionaire Richard Branson soared into space aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket.

Since partnering with Cedar Park six years ago, Firefly has expanded its venture to include rocket systems and lunar landers. In February, the company was awarded a $93.3 million contract by NASA to deliver a suite of 10 science investigators and technology demonstrations to the moon in 2023, KVUE previously reported.

Earlier this year, FireFly tested its Alpha rocket when kerosene leaked, creating a major fireball and prompting a highway closure and evacuations. 

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Firefly Aerospace aims to launch 1st orbital test flight tonight. Here's how to watch live. 02 September, 2021 - 06:24am

The four-hour launch window for Firefly's Alpha rocket opens at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT on Sept. 3).

Tonight's test flight will be the first orbital launch for Alpha and for Firefly, so success is far from guaranteed. The rocket is carrying a payload called DREAM ("Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission"), which consists of mementoes submitted by schools and other educational institutions.

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