The first orbital launch of the Alpha rocket from Firefly Aerospace failed on Thursday evening when the vehicle exploded just minutes after the flight.
In footage (below) of the launch, which includes commentary from YouTuber Tim Dodd of Everyday Astronaut, the rocket made a perfect launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California at around 7 p.m. PT.
But two and a half minutes later, the mission ended abruptly when Alpha suddenly exploded.
About 30 seconds before failure, Dodd suggested something was wrong when he realized the missile was taking longer than expected to reach supersonic speed and said, “Maybe that’s not great … there is a possibility that it will Vehicle is slightly below average. “
Following the explosion, the seven-year-old Texas aerospace company quickly fired a tweet confirming that its new missile “suffered an anomaly during the ascent of the first stage that resulted in the loss of the vehicle,” added that there will be more information as it becomes available.
Alpha experienced an anomaly during the ascent of the first stage that resulted in the loss of the vehicle. As we collect more information, additional details will be provided.
– Firefly Aerospace (@Firefly_Space) September 3, 2021
Firefly’s two-stage Alpha rocket is 29 meters high and is expected to launch payloads of up to 2,200 pounds (approximately 1,000 kg) into low-earth orbit.
The failed mission carried a payload called DREAM (Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission), which included a range of technical and non-technical items submitted by educational institutions and nonprofits around the world.
While Thursday’s failure is a significant setback for Firefly, such accidents are not uncommon on early test flights. In fact, only last month, Firefly CEO Tom Markusic admitted that Alpha may not complete the mission.
“It’s not uncommon to have an anomaly on your first flight,” he said, adding, “Alpha is a pretty simple rocket design.
On its website, Firefly says it ultimately plans to launch Alpha twice a month to put small satellites into low-earth orbit for global customers, in a business that will compete with SpaceX, Rocket Lab, and Virgin Orbit.
The company is currently building another rocket called Beta and received a $ 93 million contract from NASA earlier this year to build a lunar lander called the Blue Ghost, which will deliver scientific and technological payloads to the moon in the coming years.