The 97-foot-long rocket’s first stage left a corkscrew-shaped contrail, while the second stage could clearly be seen heading south high in the western sky.
The rocket was reportedly carrying a secret payload in a $15 million, short-timeline mission for the Defense Department code-named VICTUS NOX.
According to a press release in August, Firefly Aerospace would be given a 60-hour window to launch the rocket in a test of responsive space capability for national defense.
“The U.S.’s ability to rapidly respond to on-orbit needs is critical to our national defense, particularly in today’s evolving space environment,” said Space Force Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough in the release.
Austin, TX-based Firefly Aerospace develops medium-lift vehicles for “responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers.”
The Alpha series rockets can put a one-ton payload into low Earth orbit. Thursday’s launch was the third to date.