090221 Firefly explodes

Firefly Aerospace's Alpha rocket explodes minutes after launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Thursday evening.

Firefly Aerospace's Alpha rocket launched, then exploded midair over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday evening after Space Launch Delta 30 terminated its flight, according to Vandenberg Space Force Base range operations.

Firefly Aerospace Inc., based in Cedar Park, Texas, immediately announced via Twitter that the vehicle had been lost due to an "anomaly" during first stage ascent.

After a successful liftoff at 6:59 p.m. from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, the ascending rocket exploded just two minutes after takeoff, resulting in a fiery eruption and a large plume of smoke that was followed by what could be seen as debris falling back to Earth.

There were no injuries associated with the anomaly, according to Vandenberg Space Force Base officials, and a team of investigators are working to determine the cause of the failure.

More information will be released as it becomes available, officials said.

The Firefly Alpha was designed to become the company's first orbital rocket, heralding a new launch vehicle for small payloads to address the needs of the small satellite market.

Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record. 

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