Ukraine and the United States jointly launched a rocket into space: it exploded after 2 minutes
The Alpha rocket from Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov's Firefly company was launched on its first-ever orbital test flight from the Vandenberg space base in California at 21:59 pm New York time on September 3. "New time"
The launch took place almost an hour after the first attempt was aborted at the end of the countdown.
For the first 2,5 minutes of the flight, everything looked good. But then the two-stage Alpha, 29 meters high, ran into some "inexplicable problem," exploding into a fireball high in the California sky.
“Alpha suffered anomalies during the first phase of the ascent that resulted in the loss of the vehicle. Additional details will be provided as more information is gathered, ”Firefly said.
“Before starting the countdown, Range cleared the site and all surrounding areas to minimize risk to Firefly employees, base personnel and the general public. We continue to work with Range in compliance with all security protocols, ”they added.
The failure shouldn't come as a big surprise: getting into space is difficult, especially for a brand new rocket. For example, Firefly's three main small satellite launch competitors - Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and Astra - also failed in their first orbital attempts.
The Alpha carried about 92 kilograms of payload during today's flight, which Firefly dubbed DREAM (short for Special Research and Educational Mission Accelerator). The plan was to bring this device into orbit at an altitude of 300 km.
The DREAM payload contained a collection of memorabilia left behind by schools and other educational institutions, as well as several tiny satellites. The mission was aimed at "preserving humanity's dreams of a cosmic future and inspiring people around the world to dream big and strive for the stars."
Alpha's road to the launch site began in 2014 with the founding of Firefly Space Systems. This company filed for bankruptcy in early 2017 following the departure of a major investor. But Firefly did not disappear forever: it was born again under the new name Firefly Aerospace.
Firefly now aims to capture a significant chunk of the small satellite launch market with Alpha. The single-use rocket is designed to deliver 1000 kg of payload to LEO for each $ 15 million mission.
Firefly's competitors in this area include Rocket Lab, which has been launching small payloads with its Electron accelerator since 2018; Virgin Orbit, y which now has two successful missions; and Astra, reached space on a test flight last year, but has yet to place a payload into orbit.
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In May 2021, Firefly Aerospace, a Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov's company, signed a contract with SpaceX to deliver the Blue Ghost lander to the Moon in 2023.
The module will deliver 10 NASA scientific instruments to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program, Firefly Aerospace said.
Blue Ghost will travel to the Moon aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, one of the largest payload rockets on the market, allowing the lander to fly with minimal use of Blue Ghost engines, allowing the lander to deliver more than 150 kg of payload to the lunar surface.
“This is a very important mission on which the best minds and legendary companies in the field of space are working. Such cooperation is of great importance for the further development of all mankind, "said Max Polyakov, the main investor at Firefly Aerospace.
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