Rocket explodes following launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base

September 3, 2021


A rocket exploded over the Pacific Ocean after its launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base Thursday evening, possibly scattering debris along the Central Coast.

Firefly Aerospace’s first-ever test flight of its Alpha rocket ended abruptly, shortly after its 6:59 p.m. lift-off. A little more than two minutes into the flight, Alpha experienced an anomaly that resulted in the loss of the rocket and an early end of the mission, Firefly Aerospace said in a statement.

Space Launch Delta 30 terminated the rocket at 7:01 p.m., Vandenberg officials said. No injuries occurred as a result of the explosion.

A team of instigators will determine the cause of the mission failure. Because of the ongoing investigation, Vandenberg is temporarily restricting access to all recreational facilities, including on-base beaches, that were closed for the launch.

The explosion appears to have left debris scattered in areas near Vandenberg Space Force Base. Vandenberg officials say any debris from the rocket should be considered unsafe. Individuals who encounter debris or suspect they may have are asked to stay at least 50 feet away and report any findings to the Firefly Aerospace Inc. hotline at (805) 605-2734.

KSBY reports suspected rocket debris was spotted Thursday night at Orcutt Community Park and at Lake Marie Estates, also located in the Orcutt area.


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It is a reasonable question for the public to ask WHAT sort of toxic material is being carried up? Biologic, radioactive, chemical? I dont want to wave a red flag in front of the “pitchfork and torches” mob who hate everything, but contamination should be a point of safety discussion.


A small amount of research would provide the answer you seek. no radioactive, no biological. Just chemical. primarily RP-1 which is a highly refined form of kerosene.

SLO Thought

Launch trajectory is immediately over the ocean, however wind could blow small bits back over land. Maybe wind direction and velocity need more consideration.

Jorge Estrada

A consequence to consider for future launches. The launch trajectory may need adjustment to get away from land sooner? Falling parts on Lompoc makes for a dangerous launch trajectory.


“The launch trajectory may need adjustment to get away from land sooner”

Sorry, that’s not how launch trajectories work. You can’t just randomly launch at a different angle or take a different path and still meet the required orbital parameters for your payload. They have been doing launches from Vandenberg for decades and have an excellent safety record. No one was even slightly injured by this most recent launch or any others in the entire history of Vandenberg launches. Just stay away from the debris and you’ll be fine.