Partial success: the Alpha rocket failed to put the cargo into the specified orbit

Due to problems with the upper stage, the Alpha rocket failed to put the cargo into the desired orbit. This is stated in a message published by Firefly.

Alpha rocket launch. Source: Trevor Mahlmann

Alpha was launched on December 22nd. The purpose of the mission was to launch into orbit a small demonstrator satellite assembled by Lockheed Martin. The spacecraft was supposed to test an electronically controlled antenna that could be used on future broadband satellites. 

Initially, the flight took place in normal mode. The Alpha first stage successfully completed its section, after which the upper stage and the satellite entered an intermediate orbit with a perigee height of 215 km and an apogee height of 523 km. After that, another activation of the second stage engine was to take place, which would “round off” the orbit.

But it never happened. Due to engine problems, the bundle remained in an intermediate orbit. At the same time, the satellite separated from the stage and got in touch. However, due to the low perigee of its orbit, it “hooks” the upper layers of the atmosphere at each turn and loses altitude. According to experts, the satellite is likely to cease to exist in a few weeks.

At the moment, the Alpha rocket has four space flights on its account. Only one of them was absolutely successful. We are talking about the VICTUS NOX mission, during which Firefly successfully launched a military satellite into orbit after receiving a 24-hour launch notification. The rocket’s debut flight ended in failure due to an accident in the operation of the first stage. During the second mission, there was a malfunction in the operation of the upper stage, which caused the cargo to be placed into an unplanned orbit.

According to

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