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Rocket Flight Ends In Explosion Shortly After Liftoff From Central Coast

Firefly Aerospace Video
Images of an explosion which destroyed a rocket shortly after takeoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base Thursday night.

Takeoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base appears to go well, but "anomaly" hits during flight.

A rocket flight from the Central Coast ended in failure, apparently blowing up shortly after takeoff. Texas-based Firefly Aerospace was conducting its first-ever launch of one of its new Alpha rockets from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The launch was originally planned for 6 p.m. Thursday. It was aborted at the last minute, and pushed back to 6:59 p.m.

The liftoff appeared to go well, but about two minutes and forth seconds into the flight, disaster hit. The flight controllers called out "anomoly, anomoly," as live video showed the rocket appearing to wobble for a moment, and then there was an explosion.

It happened well out over the Pacific, so there was no danger to anyone on the ground.

The company posted a statement on Twitter, reading "Alpha experienced an anomaly during first stage ascent that resulted in the loss of the vehicle. As we gather more information, additional details will be provided."

The nearly 100 foot tall rocket is intended to carry smaller payloads into orbit at lower than traditional costs. It can carry a payload of a little over a ton. The average launch cost is estimated to be around $15 million dollars.

For its first launch, it wasn’t carrying a traditional payload. For the test, it was taking memorabilia from some schools into orbit

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.