A 100-foot tall rocket built by startup Firefly burst into flames mid-air after launching from California on Thursday.
The rocket built by the Texas based startup appeared to have a smooth liftoff as it soared out over the Pacific Ocean and approached supersonic speeds.
But then, soon the rocket began to cartwheel, turning over itself, before US Space Force officials on the ground directed the company to destroy the rocket mid-air, calling an emergency abort so that it does not tumble uncontrolled back toward people or property.
No one was harmed.
Firefly is not the only space company to lose a rocket in 2021. Astra a California-based startup with a similar business plan to Firefly’s, attempted last week to put its 43-foot-tall rocket into orbit, but the vehicle veered sideways off its launch pad and attempted to right itself before exploding over the coast of Alaska.
And then there’s SpaceX, which has endured many explosions during the early development phases of its rocket technology.
Firefly, which is headquartered near Austin, Texas, said it is working with federal regulators to determine what went wrong before it works toward its next orbital flight attempt.
“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 posted to Twitter.
Firefly has already been through bankruptcy once. The company refloated after receiving financial support from private investors, the company is valued over $1 billion.
Firefly anomaly recorded with my phone through my telescope pic.twitter.com/N1qWr7m13O
— Adrian (@AeroEndeavour) September 3, 2021