Firefly Rocket Explodes Shortly After Takeoff

The launch was monitored from the Vandenberg Space Force Base control center. Firefly Aerospace

The inaugural test flight of Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket on Thursday ended abruptly as it exploded over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday, the company said “an anomaly” occurred about 2 minutes after the unmanned aircraft’s 6:59 p.m. takeoff from the Vandenberg Space Force Base, “resulting in an early end to the mission.”

Firefly was attempting to reach orbit when the explosion occurred.

“While it’s too early to draw conclusions as to the root cause,” the statement reads, “we will be diligent in our investigation, in partnership with the FAA and Vandenberg Space Force Base. We will utilize the data we obtained from the test flight and apply it to future missions.

“Our engineers are currently combing through thousands of lines of ground and flight system telemetry in order to better understand what occurred.”

Following the explosion, Vandenberg officials issued a warning to local residents about possible debris falling in the area.

Firefly, headquartered in Austin, Texas, was founded by CEO Tom Markusic, a former engineer for Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic. The company’s goal is to deliver smaller, one-ton payloads to the space market.

In February, NASA awarded the company a $93.3 million contract to deliver payloads to the moon in 2023 using its Blue Ghost lunar lander.

Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Meg is head of Digital Editorial Content, bringing 20 years of editorial experience in both digital and print to the Firecrown team. Follow Meg on Twitter @emdash13.

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