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Friday, September 3, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Firefly Aerospace Alpha Experiences “Anomaly” in Flight

“Anomaly” is how they say “KABOOM!” in Safetyland.

The following video from NASASpaceflight (which has nothing to do with the U.S. space agency) is taken from a distance and doesn't show the liftoff (which was normal) very well, but clearly shows, at the 2:24 point, when the rocket went all Kerbal and started tumbling end over end before being blown up (or, in Safetyland patois, “flight termination”) by range safety. “Jeb—turn on SAS!

In the coverage by Everyday Astronaut below, which I've cued to start one minute before launch, it appears the problems started before the loss of control. At the 1:59:42 mark, an odd plume appears at the left of the rocket camera image which wasn't visible previously and doesn't look like a regular exhaust expansion effect. At 2:00:07 there is a call of “Not yet supersonic” at a time which was supposed to be after passing max Q and Mach 1. The supersonic call does not occur until 2:00:36, much later than expected. Then, at 2:00:47 everything goes pear shaped.

Posted at September 3, 2021 11:55