The second launch of the Alpha rocket was successful. It has deployed satellites in low Earth orbit. The US aerospace company Firefly Aerospace (based in Austin) has brought a rocket into orbit on the second attempt.
The 29-meter-high Alpha rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US state of California. On board, the demonstration mission Alpha Flight 2: To The Black were several small satellites, which were deployed after about an hour.
The Alpha rocket was developed to launch such small satellites into orbit. It can carry a payload of 1,170 kilograms into low Earth orbit. This puts Firefly Aerospace in competition with Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit, among others.
The launch of the Alpha was scheduled to take place two weeks earlier but was canceled due to an unexpected drop in pressure. The first launch of an Alpha took place a year ago. It was unsuccessful: the rocket got out of control after a few minutes and was detonated at an altitude of only around 15 km.
The space company was founded in 2014 under the name Firefly Space Systems. It developed the rocket using Ukrainian technology but quickly ran into financial difficulties. In 2017, the Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov took over the company and, among other things, equipped the Alpha rocket with new engine technology. In late 2021, however, Polyakov was forced to sell his entire company shares for one US dollar on grounds of US national security interests.
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