Len Wood / For the Santa Maria Times via AP
VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif .– A privately designed unmanned rocket built to carry satellites was destroyed in an explosive fireball after suffering an “anomaly” off the California coast during its first attempt to ‘reach Earth orbit.
Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket was “completed” over the Pacific Ocean shortly after taking off Thursday at 6:59 p.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base, according to a base statement. Video from the San Luis Obispo Tribune showed the explosion.
Firefly said an “anomaly” occurred during the ascent of the first leg which “resulted in the loss of the vehicle” approximately two minutes and 30 seconds after the start of the flight. Vandenberg said a team of investigators will attempt to determine the cause of the failure.
Len Wood / AP
The rocket was carrying a payload called DREAM, or the dedicated mission to accelerate research and education. It consisted of articles from schools and other institutions, including small satellites and several demonstration spacecraft.
“While we did not meet all of our mission goals, we did achieve a number of them: successful first stage firing, wafer liftoff, progress to supersonic speed, and we obtained a substantial amount of data from flight, “Firefly said in a statement. declaration. The information will be applied to future missions.
Firefly, based in Austin, Texas, is developing various launch and space vehicles, including a lunar lander. Its Alpha rocket was designed to target the growing market for launching small satellites into Earth orbit.
At 26 meters (95 feet) tall, the two-stage Alpha is designed to carry up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) of payload into low orbit. The company wants to be able to launch Alphas twice a month. The launches are said to have a starting price of $ 15 million, according to Firefly.
Matt Hartman / AP
Firefly will have to catch up with two companies based in Long Beach, Calif., Which are ahead in the business of launching small satellites.
Rocket Lab has put 105 satellites into orbit with multiple launches from a site in New Zealand and is developing another launch complex in the United States
Virgin Orbit sent 17 satellites into space with two successful flights of its LauncherOne rocket, launched from the wing of a modified Boeing 747.