The debut launch of a new rocket from Cedar Park-based company Firefly Aerospace came down in flames after taking off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California yesterday.
(Courtesy of Nora K. Wallace)
Standing nearly 100 feet tall, the rocket took off at 9 p.m. Thursday with a groan, followed by an unintended fireworks show after two minutes in the air. A Firefly statement said they didn't meet all of their launch objectives, though they did meet goals of a successful first launch initiation, flight data, liftoff from the pad and progression to supersonic speed.
The company said they will provide more information as it becomes available.
"Alpha experienced an anomaly resulting in an early end of the mission," Firefly announced on Twitter. "We are happy to report that there were no injuries associated with the anomaly."
Firefly's unsuccessful launch is not the first of its kind—Electron, LauncherOne, Rocket 3.1 all failed their first launch as well, according to senior space editor at Ars Technica Eric Berger on Twitter.
Seems like the successes were by companies that had already been through teething pains (SpaceX and Orbital Sciences) and non-successes were by companies flying their first rockets. If successful, Firefly would buck the trend.
— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) September 2, 2021
The Alpha rocket carried 203 pounds of payload, the weight in the flight that generates revenue, which Firefly refers to as "DREAM"—Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission—that contains tiny satellites and memorabilia from schools.
Firefly's upcoming Space Utility Vehicle, a solar-electric space tug that delivers payloads into orbit, also took a ride on the vehicle.
The company planned to carry the load into orbit 186 miles above the Earth, though safety personnel sent a destruct command when the craft began to veer off course.
"We want to thank the teams at Vandenberg Space Force Base and Space Launch Delta 30 for their partnership in this launch and the FAA for their continued support," Firefly said.
For now, the company is continuing to work toward its Blue Ghost, a Beta and robotic moon lander that Firefly is developing for NASA, and Gamma, a reusable space plane that can provide fast transportation from Earth to the cosmos.
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.