Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Several Ham Satellites Lost in Launch Failure

Liftoff of the Firefly Alpha rocket on its first
test flight, which ended seconds later when an
anomaly occurred at the point of maximum
aerodynamic pressure. (Firefly Aerospace photo)
Several satellites carrying amateur radio payloads were lost just after launch when controllers destroyed a Firefly-Alpha rocket after it experienced "an anomaly" as it reached the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure following liftoff. 

Most notable among the lost satellites, according to the ARRL Letter, were two built by the Spanish amateur satellite organization, AMSAT-EA. The GENESIS-L and GENESIS-N satellites were the first built entirely by AMSAT-EA. They had been intended to conduct a series of experiments, including measurement of Doppler variations to help in tracking future satellites as they reached orbit.

This was the first test launch for the Alpha rocket, built by Firefly Aerospace, a private launch company headquartered in Austin, Texas, that is focused on providing economically-priced transport of small and medium-sized satellites to low Earth and Sun-synchronous orbits.