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Thread: Firefly Aerospace's Alpha rocket

  1. #1
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    Firefly Aerospace's Alpha rocket

    "Rocket builder Firefly Aerospace aims for first launch from California in late December, CEO says"

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/21/fire...-december.html

    Firefly Aerospace currently plans for its maiden Alpha rocket launch to happen as early as Dec. 22, co-founder and CEO Tom Markusic told CNBC, as his company prepares for the next major milestone in its plan to offer a variety of space transportation services.

    Markusic is confident in the launch date because of the “rigid” requirements of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where Firefly is finishing up work to prepare the launchpad at SLC-2. While “everything is susceptible to surprises,” with room in the schedule to launch as late as Jan. 31, Markusic said the “full gamut of rules” at Vandenberg means the company has put extra work into certification for Alpha’s first launch.

    “We took the hard route to flight, and that was by going to a launch range that has very strict requirements,” Markusic said. “So our design has been highly vetted, as we have a lot of requirements that are put on us by the range and that makes the rocket ultimately more reliable.
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  2. #2
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    "New rocket, Firefly's Alpha, may be ready to launch by April"

    https://www.spacedaily.com/reports/N...April_999.html

    Texas-based Firefly Aerospace plans to launch its new Alpha rocket from California in April and send a lunar lander to the moon by 2023.

    The 95-foot-high launch vehicle is designed to lift satellite payloads that weigh just over a ton into low-Earth orbit, or slightly lighter loads to a higher orbit.
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  3. #3
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    I assume they are marketing it as the best rocket in the 'Verse.
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  4. #4
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    Firefly Aerospace is scheduled to launch a Firefly Alpha rocket as part of the Maiden Flight mission.
    https://www.rocketlaunchschedule.com...maiden-flight/

    Sea Launch was tipped to be one of the stars of the private sector, it used used a launcher on a purpose-built ship Sea Launch Commander on the US West Coast, Sea Launch has finished as a company and put operations on long-term hiatus in 2014, "Sea Launch "frozen" after ships moved to Russia". https://spacenews.com/sea-launch-fro...ved-to-russia/ Richard Branson, owner of Virgin and Burt Rutan, SpaceShipOne's designer, announced that Virgin Galactic were going to offer space tourism flights. Genesis was another private sector project, an experimental space habitat designed and built by the private American firm Bigelow Aerospace launched back in 2006. Zero 2 Infinity is another private company developing high-altitude balloons and says it will offer a balloon-borne launcher. The Planetary Society had a mission called LightSail 2 launched on June 25, 2019 and successfully used sunlight to change its orbit, LightSail 2 was expected to remain in orbit until the second half of 2021
    Another company has been making headlines in the Private sector called Exo-Launch but I do not believe they have their own rocket? Instead they will offer payloads on Soyuz and Electron rockets and has announced agreements with SpaceX and New Space India Limited. The news from S.Korea says it will spend $550 million on space https://spacenews.com/south-korea-to...jects-in-2021/
    Last edited by Launch window; 2021-May-02 at 03:31 PM.

  5. #5
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    Firefly Alpha #1 launched, but failed shortly after MaxQ. Play starts at ~T-3 min,

    https://youtu.be/-HfHAazNM3Q?t=6912

    A closer look at the anomaly,

    https://twitter.com/thejackbeyer/sta...18654889865216

  6. #6
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    Interesting. From some of the comments it was accelerating slower than expected then it started spinning out of control a little after maxq and probably exploded due to self-destruct.

    But just naively looking at it, it looked good to me until the final seconds. It strikes me as a decent test attempt.
    Last edited by Van Rijn; 2021-Sep-03 at 08:37 AM.

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  7. #7
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    Astra also failed about a week ago. Space is hard!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Astra also failed about a week ago. Space is hard!
    Yes, but that was immediately obvious, what with the engine failure and it flying off sideways. For those who haven’t seen it:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvas4x7JYLo

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x2jU5W4ehPE

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    Scott Manley on what went wrong….

    Reaver causes destruction of FireFly

  10. #10
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    Interesting, so it looks like Firefly as well as Astra’s problem was an engine failure, just not quite as immediately obvious with Firefly (at least from the outsider viewer’s perspective, it sounds like the folks directly involved had a better idea of what happened).
    Last edited by Van Rijn; 2021-Sep-04 at 09:24 PM.

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  11. #11
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    Based on the Scott Manley video, I'm thinking that while it may not have been quite as immediate, it was still very early, resulting in the "not supersonic" callout.
    The Astra event was interesting in that after it walked off the pad, it could keep itself stable and finally accelerate up to a point where they were able to drop it into a safe place. The Firefly attempt was clearly out of control at the point where the destruct system was activated, and debris landed on populated areas. Of course, avoiding populated areas is easier in Alaska than California.
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