New Rocket Company Fails to Launch on 2nd Attempt
VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. — A year after its first rocket launch failed, a new aerospace company failed Friday morning in its second attempt to put multiple satellites into orbit.
Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket was unable to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, and follow a planned arc over the Pacific Ocean into space.
A live video feed showed the countdown to the launch going to zero, then halting at 12:52 a.m. on Friday.
“Vehicle has automatically shut down after ignition. This is designed into the system to ensure safety,” the company said in a Twitter post. data to determine our next launch window.”
The rocket’s payload included several small satellites designed for a variety of experiments and technology demonstrations as well as for educational purposes.
The mission, dubbed “To The Black”, was the company’s second demonstration flight of its entry into the small satellite launcher market.
The first Alpha was launched from Vandenberg on September 2, 2021, but did not reach orbit.
One of the first stage’s four engines shut down prematurely, but the rocket continued to climb on three engines into the supersonic range where it spun out of control.
The rocket was then intentionally destroyed by an explosive flight termination system.
Firefly Aerospace said the premature shutdown was due to an electrical problem, but the rocket otherwise performed well and gained useful data during the nearly 2 1/2 minutes of flight.
Alpha is designed to carry payloads weighing up to 2,579 pounds (1,170 kilograms) into low Earth orbit.
Other competitors in the booming small launch market include Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit, both based in Long Beach, Calif.
Firefly Aerospace, based in Cedar Park, Texas, also plans a larger rocket, space operations vehicle and lander to ferry NASA and commercial payloads to the moon’s surface.