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It's off! New rocket has first successful flight from Central Coast

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Firefly Aerospace
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Firefly Aerospace successfully launched its Alpha rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base Saturday morning.

Firefly Aerospace launches Alpha rocket Saturday morning.

An aerospace company is celebrating its first successful rocket test launch, which happened over the weekend from the Central Coast.

Firefly Aerospace launched one of its nearly 100 foot tall Alpha rockets from Vandenberg Space Force Base early Saturday morning. The rocket carried three space science experiments into a low Earth orbit.

The 12:01 a.m. launch was visible to some night owls in the Tri-Counties.

It was the sixth time Firefly had tried to launch one of its newly developed rockets. The first effort in 2021 ended in failure, when the premature shutdown of an engine just after liftoff sent the rocket out of control, and it had to be destroyed.

Two launch efforts this September had to be scrubbed due to minor technical issues, and weather concerns led to two additional postponements.

Firefly designed the Alpha rocket as a low cost alternative to putting small satellites into low earth orbits.

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.