How to Watch Firefly’s Alpha Rocket Second Launch Attempt

A rocket launched by Firefly Aerospace, the newest entrant in the New Space sector, explodes minutes after launch from the Central California coast on Thursday, September 2, 2021.

The Alpha rocket exploded shortly after launch in 2021.
photo: Len wood (AP)

Firefly Aerospace is preparing for another attempt to launch its Alpha rocket, hoping the little launch vehicle will make it to orbit this time fiery first attempt in the last year.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET: Firefly scrubbed Launch attempt on Monday due to violation of wind restrictions. The next launch attempt is scheduled for September 19 or 20.

Original post follows.

The Texas-based company is targeting an orbital launch attempt Monday at 6 p.m. ET, and the test flight will be streamed live. You can tune in to watch the launch Firefly’s website or via the feed below.

The 29-meter rocket is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Firefly developed Alpha to offer low-cost rides for small satellites. As part of today’s mission, titled “To the Black,” Alpha will transport two small CubeSats and six pico-satellites. The Serenity cubesat, provided by Teachers in Space, will collect flight data for educational purposes, while TES-15, a collaboration between NASA and San Jose State University, will test an “exo-brake” that can increase drag to orbit to leave a satellite. Meanwhile, the Libre Space Foundation’s PicoBus will deploy six pico-satellites to test communications and remote sensing technology.

The company wants to be able to launch two Alpha rockets each month, with the single-use rocket expected to carry 2,580 pounds (1,170 kg) of cargo into low Earth orbit and 1,640 pounds (745 kg) into sun-synchronous orbit.

But first, Alpha must pass its test flight. The company’s first attempt to launch the rocket on September 2, 2021 didn’t quite go as planned. One of Alpha’s four first stage Reaver engines shut down Unexpectedly, about 15 seconds later, the flight termination system activated and the missile exploded in a massive fireball over the Pacific Ocean. A year later, Alpha is (hopefully) ready to fly again.

Alpha’s second test flight was scheduled to take place on Sunday, but the rocket ran into trouble and the team canceled the launch attempt due to a drop in helium pressure. But, fingers crossed, the company can finally see Alpha fly without explosive glitches this time around. If all goes well, Firefly is hoping for regular alpha launches by the end of the year.

More: Northrop Grumman partners with Firefly to replace Russian rocket engines

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