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Firefly rocket explodes after launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base; officials warn of debris

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Posted at 3:29 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 02:48:01-04

UPDATE (11 p.m.) - Vandenberg Space Force Base says due to Thursday night’s rocket explosion, people may see debris in the area.

“A team of investigators has determined that any debris from the rocket should be considered unsafe,” according to a press release.

Vandenberg is asking anyone who sees debris or suspected debris to stay at least 50 feet away from it and report the findings to the Firefly Aerospace Inc. hotline at (805) 605-2734.

KSBY has heard of reports of debris falling in Orcutt.

Recreational facilities that were closed during the launch, including base beaches, will remain closed for the time being.

Vandenberg says Space Launch Delta 30 terminated the rocket over the Pacific Ocean.

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Suspected rocket debris found at Orcutt Community Park Thursday night

Firefly Aerospace released the following statement on Twitter:

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UPDATE (7:10 p.m.) - A Firefly Alpha rocket launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Thursday evening exploded about 2 minutes and 30 seconds after it took off.

The rocket launched at 6:59 p.m.

It was the second attempt of the night.

The first launch attempt scheduled for 6 p.m. was aborted.
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(3:29 p.m.) - Firefly Aerospace plans to launch its Alpha rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base for the very first time Thursday evening.

The launch window is between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The company is livestreaming the launch live on YouTube starting 60 minutes before launch:

Firefly said the main purpose of Thursday's inaugural launch is to make sure its employees are on the right track, using the correct inputs and working toward the goal of putting other projects into space.

"The real purpose of this mission is to get to space, to get as much data as we possibly can on ascent so that we can come back again on the next flight and do it even better," said Lauren Lyons, Firefly Aerospace Chief Operating Officer.

Two weeks ago, the company performed a static fire test of the launch vehicle, which officials said was a success.

Firefly's Alpha rocket is designed to address the needs of the small satellite market. The company expects to eventually offer Alpha launches twice per month.

Thursday's launch will deliver a payload called DREAM, or the Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission, a Firefly initiative to send academic and educational payloads into space for free.

Firefly has another rocket in development called Beta, as well as a reusable rocket plane called Gamma and a Space Utility Vehicle that's designed to take payloads beyond the range of typical launch vehicles. Its Blue Ghost lunar lander was selected by NASA to deliver a payload to the moon in 2023.