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Ozair
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Firefly Alpha News and Discussion Thread

Fri Apr 03, 2020 1:43 am

I received an email this morning regarding Firefly Alpha scheduled to launch their first rocket potentially on the 20th of April. Firefly Aerospace has some controversy associated with them which I also wasn't aware of.

Having reviewed the wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_Alpha it seems a decent small satellite launch system but I would be interested in the comments of those far more knowledgeable than myself on Firefly Alpha and their potential longevity in the market? Also what their engines are like and how much potential their followons Beta and Gamma have?

Some concept art.
Image
Last edited by SQ22 on Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Title updated
 
mxaxai
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Re: Firefly Alpha

Fri Sep 03, 2021 10:11 am

Pardon me for resurrecting this thread. The first launch on 02.09.2021 (yesterday) ended in a big explosion.
https://spacenews.com/firefly-alpha-exp ... st-launch/
The rocket’s first stage may have been underperforming. According to a mission overview distributed by Firefly before the launch, the vehicle was supposed to reach the speed of Mach 1 67 seconds after liftoff, followed by maximum dynamic pressure nine seconds later. However, launch controllers did not report that the vehicle was supersonic until 2 minutes and 20 seconds after liftoff, about 10 seconds before the vehicle exploded.


Just two weeks ago, Firefly got an ex-SpaceX, ex-Blue Origin engineer as their new COO. https://spacenews.com/firefly-hires-for ... er-as-coo/
 
GDB
Posts: 14396
Joined: Wed May 23, 2001 6:25 pm

Re: Firefly Alpha

Fri Sep 03, 2021 10:16 am

Ah well, they will know that Space X's first three Falcon 1's failed.
Keep on keeping on.
Best of luck to them.
 
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casinterest
Posts: 13935
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 5:30 am

Re: Firefly Alpha News and Discussion Thread

Fri Sep 03, 2021 4:53 pm

When I watched the video, there was an awful lot of flex of the structure . It may have been the camera, but I wonder if they had issues with the fuel pumps or maybe one of the fuel tanks blew.
 
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Tugger
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Re: Firefly Alpha News and Discussion Thread

Fri Sep 03, 2021 11:10 pm

I watched the Everyday Astronaut stream and what piqued my interest was when he pointed out that the engines were not fully gimballed, each able to move back and forth. With the idea that between the four of them they had full directional control. However what happen if one fails? I guess they decided one fails the rocket fails?

Tugg
 
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Francoflier
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Re: Firefly Alpha News and Discussion Thread

Sat Sep 04, 2021 2:43 am

Tugger wrote:
I watched the Everyday Astronaut stream and what piqued my interest was when he pointed out that the engines were not fully gimballed, each able to move back and forth. With the idea that between the four of them they had full directional control. However what happen if one fails? I guess they decided one fails the rocket fails?

Tugg


I think 4 motors is not enough to cover for a failure.
Losing an engine means increasing thrust by about 30% on the other 3 and it's likely not practical or efficient to design a rocket engine with that much power reserve for contingencies. Directional control would also be an issue.

The Astra rocket has 5 motors and when they lost one the other day the thing barely hovered around the pad for a little while until it eventually burned enough fuel that it could accelerate upwards... just. It could never have made it to orbit.

Even the Electron rocket with its 9 engines couldn't achieve orbit after one of them shut down prematurely during a flight earlier this year.
I guess there's just not enough spare performance on these small rockets to provide that level of redundancy.

Still, not a bad result for Firelfly considering this was their first launch. I'm sure they gathered plenty of good data to bring them closer to orbit.
Space is hard...
 
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Francoflier
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Re: Firefly Alpha News and Discussion Thread

Sat Sep 04, 2021 4:05 am

Here's Scott Manley's debrief :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erXrnvyuhJs

Likely an engine failure during the flight, leading to slow acceleration and loss of directional control as it eventually went supersonic...

Some cool footage of the rocket going sideways and disintegrating too, just before FTS was triggered.
 
zanl188
Posts: 3864
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:05 pm

Re: Firefly Alpha News and Discussion Thread

Mon Sep 06, 2021 7:19 pm

Engine failed about 15 sec into flight. New video from Firefly:

https://youtu.be/qFjoPw0CfAU

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