Firefly Rocket Explodes Minutes After First Launch
The first test flight of Firefly Aerospace’s new rocket ended with an explosion, just minutes after launching.
Video footage shows the rocket, named Alpha, exploding into a fireball roughly two-and-a-half minutes after lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
In a statement, Firefly confirmed the failure, tweeting, ‘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.’
No crew were on board the rocket and no injuries have been reported, with Firefly confirming that it had cleared the surrounding area ahead of the launch to ‘minimise risk’ to staff and the public in the event of an accident.
Sky News reports that prior to the explosion Firefly had aborted a first launch attempt for ‘unspecificied technical reasons’. The rocket appeared to underperform when it eventually took flight shortly before 7am PST, taking twice as long to reach the sound barrier as had been expected before exploding into flames and falling back towards Earth.
Part of Firefly’s Project DREAM, Alpha was a 95ft tall rocket, and carried 11 payloads on its launch, with the test flight intended to have reached orbit.
The private aerospace company has won contracts worth $93.3 million from NASA to develop equipment as part of the agency’s Project Artemis, which is set to see humans return to the moon within the next five years.
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