[Update: Anomaly] Next Launch: Firefly Aerospace preparing for first launch of their Alpha rocket

Firefly is working towards the first launch of their Alpha rocket, as well as the company’s first launch at all. While this is a test flight FireFly will have real payloads on board this rocket. The smallsats come from a variety of education and research programs that competed for a free spot on the maiden flight. The goal of this mission is to validate the design of the Alpha rocket and its subsystems.

Date: Thursday, September 2nd, 9:59 p.m. (Window closes September 3rd at 12:00 a.m. EDT)

Rocket: Firefly Aerospace Alpha

Payload: Project DREAM

Launch Pad: SLC-2W, Vandenberg Space Force Base, California

Landing Site: Firefly’s rocket will be expended into the Pacific Ocean.

About Firefly’s Alpha rocket

Firefly’s Alpha rocket is a two-stage smallsat launcher. Standing at 29 meters tall and about 1.8 meters, the rocket is taller and just slightly wider than Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket. The first stage is powered by 5 Reaver engines which use the typical RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) and liquid oxygen as its fuel. The second stage uses a single Lightning engine which is also fueled by RP-1 and liquid oxygen. The Alpha rocket is rated to carry up to 1000 kg to a standard low Earth orbit or up to 600 kg to a sun-synchronous orbit.

Firefly’s first Alpha rocket on its launch pad in California. Credit: Firefly

The rocket has been in development since the company’s inception in 2014 but originally featured a first-stage aerospike engine and the would carry far less to space. After the company was reorganized, Alpha was redesigned to its current configuration. So far the rocket has yet to launch, this mission will be its first.

Launch Updates

Thursday, September 2nd, 10:03 p.m. EDT: Live feeds and audio seem to have been cut off. The anomaly happened in the first stage before stage separation.

Thursday, September 2nd, 10:01 p.m. EDT: Anomaly, rocket has exploded.

Thursday, September 2nd, 10:01 p.m. EDT: Alpha is supersonic.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:59 p.m. EDT: Liftoff of the first Firefly Alpha rocket.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:58 p.m. EDT: T-1 minute.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:58 p.m. EDT: Launch team is GO for launch.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:55 p.m. EDT: The flight termination system has be rearmed.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:54 p.m. EDT: T-5 minutes, the strong back is beginning to retract.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:49 p.m. EDT: T-10 minutes, still working no issues.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:44 p.m. EDT: T-15 minutes, no known issues with the countdown.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:40 p.m. EDT: We are back to T-20 minutes to Firefly’s second launch attempt for tonight’s window.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:16 p.m. EDT: New T-0 set for 9:59 p.m. EDT

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:10 p.m. EDT: Firefly has announced they are still looking at saying and hasn’t decided yet if they can recycle.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:04 p.m. EDT: Firefly is recycling the count.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:00 p.m. EDT: The strong back has raised back up to the rocket while teams work the issue.

Thursday, September 2nd, 9:00 p.m. EDT: Firefly’s Alpha rocket has called for an abort.

Thursday, September 2nd, 8:59 p.m. EDT: Firefly is GO for launch!

Thursday, September 2nd, 8:56 p.m. EDT: The flight termination system has been armed.

Thursday, September 2nd, 8:55 p.m. EDT: T-5 minutes.

Thursday, September 2nd, 8:50 p.m. EDT: T-10 minutes, we are still still looking good for launch.

Thursday, September 2nd, 8:49 p.m. EDT: The strong back has retracted for launch.

Thursday, September 2nd, 8:42 p.m. EDT: Firefly is in terminal count.

Thursday, September 2nd, 8:08 p.m. EDT: Live coverage of the launch has begun over on Everyday Astronaut’s channel.

Wednesday, September 1st, 11:01 p.m. EDT: Firefly tweets timelapse of rocket going vehicle on pad.

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