Spinnaker3 Prototype Launched On Firefly Alpha

Firefly Explosion Picture

In April 2021, a prototype unit for the Spinnaker3 dragsail was integrated with the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle upper stage. The Spinnaker3 prototype was developed by the Purdue University Space Flight Projects Laboratory and was going to provide a proof of concept by deorbiting a 1U CubeSat.

Unfortunately, approximately 2 minutes 30 seconds after takeoff, an anomaly occured, forcing Firefly to terminate the launch vehicle. The Spinnaker3 dragsail was later recovered, structurally intact, in a sand dune, miles from the launch site.