Kodiak rocket crashes at spaceport after launch

a crashed Kodiak rocket
A black plume was visible from the city of Kodiak shortly after ABL’s launch attempt on Jan. 10, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

A rocket launched from Kodiak’s spaceport Tuesday afternoon crashed shortly after ignition, with damage at the spaceport confirmed by the rocket’s creator.

ABL Space Systems confirmed that its RS-1 rocket experienced an anomaly during liftoff from the Kodiak Pacific Spaceport. All nine of the rocket’s engines shut down prematurely and it did not reach orbit. The rocket then “impacted the pad and was destroyed,” the company said on Twitter.

A black plume of smoke was visible from the city of Kodiak, rising from the area near the spaceport complex on Narrow Cape around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, shortly after the rocket’s planned takeoff time of 2:27 p.m.

A spokesperson for ABL said via email that all personnel on the ground at the complex were safe, although there is damage to the launch facility. As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, the company said via Twitter that “fires have subsided” at the complex.

a failed Kodiak rocket launch
ABL’s RS-1 rocket shortly after liftoff on Jan. 10, 2023. The rocket was destroyed after its engines shut down prematurely. (Courtesy ABL Space Systems)

The company also tweeted, “This is not the outcome we were hoping for today, but one that we prepared for. We’ll revert with additional information when available. Thanks to all for the support.”

ABL said it was going through its anomaly response procedures in coordination with the Pacific Spaceport Complex and the Federal Aviation Administration. 

This would have been ABL’s first successful launch of its RS-1 rocket – the company has been trying to launch from the Kodiak Pacific Spaceport Complex since the fall. 

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