Software Error Affects Alpha Rocket Landing

A software glitch in the GNC(Guidance, Navigation and Control ) system on the upper stage of Firefly Aerospace's Alpha rocket led to the payload not being placed in low orbit.

During the Fly the Lightning mission on December 22, the Alpha upper stage did not work as planned due to an error in the GNC software, Firefly said in a statement issued this month. This failure left the upper stage and its payload, a Lockheed Martin demonstration satellite, in a low perigee orbit.

Following an investigation involving Firefly and independent experts, it was discovered that "a bug prevented the system from sending the necessary boost commands to the engines from the reaction control system before the second phase". The Firefly team has not revealed the details of this problem, but the preliminary assessment is that this system was used to ensure the correct phase orientation and fuel regulation in the engine. Bill Weber, managing director of Firefly, said that the team was proud of its work which led to a positive investigation. According to him, it was an important achievement, and the long-term goal is to develop Alpha as a reliable rocket that is in demand in the space launch market. Firefly is currently working to correct the error in the GNC software and implement other changes to better identify similar problems in the future. The US company also stated that Alpha will be ready for its next launch in the coming months, but no specific date was given.

As a result of this error, Lockheed Martin's satellite ended up entering orbit with an initial perigee of around 215 kilometers. Lockheed accelerated the testing of satellite antenna technology and achieved significant mission objectives in just a few weeks. The satellite entered the Earth's atmosphere on February 10.

Firefly has not announced an exact date for the return of the Alpha rocket, but company executives have confirmed that they plan to carry out four Alpha launches this year, as planned before the incident. Brett Alexander, Firefly's chief revenue officer, expressed confidence that the incident would not slow down the company's growth.

The original article via Gadget Tendency can be read here.