Rocket built by startup Firefly explodes off California coast

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The rocket, which was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base north of Los Angeles It appeared to be a smooth liftoff on Thursday as it took off over the Pacific Ocean and approached supersonic speeds. but then, rocket began to cartwheel, in front of the US Space Force, turning itself officials On the ground instructed the company to destroy the rocket mid-air – called an emergency abort – so that it would not fall uncontrollably towards people or property. No one got harmed.
Firefly isn’t the only space company to lose a rocket in 2021. astra (ASTR)A California-based startup with a business plan similar to Firefly attempted to put its 43-foot-tall rocket into orbit last week, but the vehicle veered off its launch pad and exploded off the coast of Alaska before recovering itself. Tried. . And then there’s SpaceX, which has tolerated many eruptions during its early developmental stages rocket technology. An early prototype of a rocket the company hopes will one day put humans on Mars, for example, has made several explosive dives on Earth this year.

Firefly, which is headquartered near Austin, Texas, said it is working with federal regulators to determine what went wrong before working toward its next orbital flight attempt.

“While we did not complete all of our mission objects, we achieved many of them: successful first stage ignition, pad liftoff, progress to supersonic speeds, and we obtained a substantial amount of flight data,” the company said. statement posted Twitter.
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Firefly is one of a long list of commercial rocket companies that are pushing to make space a competitive business place, rather than the sole domain of governments. But whether a startup can successfully put a rocket into orbit – as companies such as SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit have been able to do – has often been a determining factor in whether a company can survive financially. .

For example, Jugnu has already gone through bankruptcy once. emerged from it Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2017 after receiving new financial aid and meeting a new wave of support from private investors. According to data firm Pitchbook, Firefly has raised millions and $1 billion valuation.

If Firefly was successful Thursday evening, it would only become the third US The company successfully reached orbit with a rocket specially designed to carry batches of small satellites into space. Rocket Lab, which has so far only launched from New Zealand, and Virgin Orbit, the sister company of the Suborbital Space Tourism Company, which took its founder Sir Richard Branson to the edge of space, are the only American to ever achieve such a feat. There are companies. a milestone.

Richard Branson's satellite-launch company Virgin Orbit will go public

But there are dozens — possibly hundreds — waiting in the wings with nearly identical business plans: Build cheap, lightweight rockets that can travel continuously in orbit.

In contrast, the most notable of the so-called “new space” companies, SpaceX, builds massive, 200-foot-long rockets specifically designed to deliver heavy telecommunications or national security satellites to distant orbits or large batches of small satellites. can be prepared for. in nearby classes.

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But Firefly and all others with similar business plans are part of a rush to meet perceived demands in the market, as space cheerleaders from Wall Street to Silicon Valley predict a near future in which space-based technologies will accelerate at high speed. provide a platform for some. , from the global internet to extraterrestrial vacation spots.


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