The past week seems to have been bad luck for the American private space companies, and two consecutive attempts by companies have all failed. First of all, it was Firefly’s first attempt to launch its “Alpha” rocket. At the beginning of the launch, everything seemed to be going well. However, about two and a half minutes after lift-off, the rocket suddenly lost control and exploded into a ball of fire in the air. In its statement, Firefly only stated that an “anomaly” caused the termination of the launch mission, and the detailed reason is still under investigation.
Firefly Alpha is a small rocket with a diameter of 1.8m and a height of 29m. It is one lap larger than Rocket Lab’s Electron. The low-Earth orbit has a load capacity of 1,000 kg, while the sun-synchronous orbit is about 630 kg. The first mission this time only carried about 92 kilograms of various cubic satellites and test products from research institutions, and there were no real paying customers. Firefly Alpha emphasizes that the first task is to give priority to experimentation and data acquisition, and it is not expected to succeed once.
Coincidentally, another rocket company named Astra last weekend also suffered a launch failure, and it has failed for the third time. Astra’s rocket was named “Rocket 3”. It fell back to the launch pad and exploded during the first launch. The second launch almost entered orbit, but failed due to insufficient fuel. This third time was after the rocket was slightly elongated. The attempt made. However, just after the Astra rocket was ignited, one of its engines seemed to be damaged, which prevented the rocket from increasing its altitude and began to “laterally move” to one side. It wasn’t until a part of the fuel was burned and the weight was reduced that the rocket began to rise slowly, but it was obvious that neither the thrust nor the fuel was enough to go to space, and finally fell into the open sea again.
The height of Rocket 3 is only 11.6 meters, which is a lap smaller than Electron. It can only carry 25~150 kg to low earth orbit. It can be said that Rocket Lab, Firefly and Astra have tried their best to avoid competition with each other. Different rocket size ranges. However, in the end, it depends on the launch cost and the size of the future small satellite market to know how many of these emerging companies will survive.