US Space Force may have accidentally punched a hole in the upper atmosphere


The separation of the first and second stages of the Firefly Aerospace Alpha rocket after launching on Sept. 14. Fuel burned during this part of the rocket’s flight may have created a hole in the ionosphere. (Image credit: Carol Cohn)

A rocket carrying a U.S. Space Force satellite into orbit may have punched a hole in Earth’s upper atmosphere, after lifting off with just 27 hours’ notice — a new record for the shortest amount of time from getting the go-ahead to actually launching. 

Firefly Aerospace, a company contracted by Space Force, launched one of its Alpha rockets from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Sept. 14 at 10:28 p.m. local time, Live Science’s sister site reported. The launch was not publicized or live-streamed, making it a complete surprise to the space exploration community.   


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