Fire Breaks Out at Firefly Test Site; No Injuries Reported

UPDATE: Firefly Aerospace Issued an updated statement today:

Firefly Aerospace maintains a 200-acre manufacturing and test facility in Briggs, Texas, 27 miles north of its headquarters.

On January 22, 2020, test engineers were conducting a planned test of the first stage of the company’s “Alpha” launch vehicle. The test was to be the first in a series of propulsion tests to verify design and operation of the stage, and involved a short, 5-second firing of the stage’s four engines.

At 6:23 pm local time, the stage’s engines were fired, and a fire broke out in the engine bay at the base of the rocket’s stage. The 5-second test was immediately aborted and the test facility’s fire suppression system extinguished the fire. The cause of the anomaly is under investigation. Firefly engineers are reviewing test data from the stage to identify potential causes for the test failure, and Firefly will share results of that investigation once it is complete.

Firefly is committed to workplace safety, and at no time during the test were Firefly operations personnel or the public in danger. Firefly is coordinating closely with local authorities and emergency response personnel as it investigates the anomaly and refines its contingency procedures.

Firefly Aerospace has said a fuel leak on the test stand caused a fire on Wednesday. The company was preparing for a static fire of the company’s Alpha small-satellite booster.

During testing this evening we experienced a test anomaly resulting in a small fire on our test stand. The fire was quickly extinguished by our fire suppression systems on the stand and the local community emergency response team quickly responded. Both the test stand and our rocket are intact. At no time was there any risk to individuals on site or the community.

In a series of tweets, local authorities said they ordered an evacuation of residents living within 1 mile (.6 km) of the Texas test site “out of an abundance of caution.” They also temporarily closed nearby roads.

Firefly is preparing for a maiden launch of the Alpha rocket this spring.