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Investigation Underway Into Cause Of Central Coast Rocket Launch Which Ended With Explosion

Firefly Aerospace
A Firefly Aerospace Alpha rocket

Rocket went out of control shortly after takeoff and had to be "terminated".

Investigators are trying to determine what caused a rocket launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base to cartwheel out of control, prompting flight controllers to blow it up out of safety concerns.

The Firefly Aerospace Alpha rocket was launched from the base at 6:59 p.m. Thursday. Firefly officials say the takeoff and early moments of the flight appeared to go as planned. The problems occurred about two-and-a-half minutes into the flight.

The explosion occurred over the Pacific Ocean, in an area which had already been cleared because of the liftoff. As a precaution, a number of on-base beaches, closed due to the launch, remained closed Friday because of potentially hazardous debris.

It was the first flight for the new rocket built by the Texas-based company. The nearly 100 foot tall Alpha rocket is intended to be a low cost means of putting small payloads 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.