A rocket built by Texas-based startup Firefly exploded mid-air after launching from California on Thursday evening, online news media CNN reported on Friday.
The 100-foot-tall rocket was launched from Los Angeles’ Vandenberg Space Force Base on Thursday where it first appeared to lift off smoothly. Shortly after, the rocket began to cartwheel resulting in US Space Force officials asking the company to immediately destroy the rocket mid-air in an emergency abort.
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The Space Force called an emergency abort to ensure the rocket does not tumble down uncontrollably and injure people and property. Luckily, no one was harmed in the process.
“While we did not meet all of our mission objects, we did achieve a number of them: successful first stage ignition, liftoff the pad, progression to supersonic speed, and we obtained a substantial amount of flight data,” the company said in a statement.
Firefly is now working with federal regulators to better understand and determine what went wrong so it can apply that knowledge to its next orbital rocket flight attempt.
If the startup succeeded on Thursday evening, it would have become the third US-based company to reach orbit via a rocket that is specifically designed for hauling small satellites into space.
While Firefly’s first-ever launch attempt had failed, it was not the only space company to lose a rocket this year. California-based startup Astra attempted to launch a 43-foot-tall rocket into orbit last week but it veered sideways off the launch pad and ended up exploding over the coast of Alaska in the US.
SpaceX has also dealt with many explosions in the early development phases of its rocket technology. Rockets developed by the company to one day bring humans to Mars have also suffered explosive dives back to Earth in 2021.