The Super Strypi carrying a UH payload broke down soon after lift off. It was the first orbital rocket launch from Hawai‘i. Photo by Liz Belfor/imagesbyliz.com

The Super Strypi broke down soon after lift off. Photo by Liz Belfor/imagesbyliz.com

The first launch in Hawai‘i of an orbital rocket, a 55-foot Super Strypi, has failed, as confirmed by the U.S. Air Force Tuesday evening.

The U.S. Navy along with U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office, in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Hawaiʻi’s Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory, the Pacific Missile Range Facility and Aerojet Rocketdyne Corp. launched the first rocket from Hawaiʻi into orbital space Tuesday.

The first moments of the flight appeared to go well, but an animation of the launch vehicle derived from telemetry appeared to show it tumbling shortly after liftoff.

Onlookers at Kekaha Beach Park watch as the orbital rocket carrying a University of Hawai‘i payload is launched from PMRF Tuesday.

Onlookers at Kekaha Beach Park watch as the orbital rocket carrying a University of Hawai‘i payload is launched from PMRF Tuesday.

A video shot by a spectator near PMRF also appears to show the Super Strypi vehicle breaking up in flight shortly after lift off.

The rocket was launched from the U.S. Navy’s PMRF at Barking Sands, Kauaʻi, through a mission known as ORS-4. The rocket was carrying a satellite designed and built by UH faculty and students. With this launch, UH became one of the only universities in the world to have both satellite fabrication capabilities and direct access to space.

The ORS-4 mission was sponsored by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Operationally Responsive Space Office and was the first launch of the Super Strypi launch system. The mission was supposed to demonstrate a new, low-cost launch capability able to deliver 300 kilograms to Low-Earth Orbit. The rocket carried UH’s hyperspectral imager as the primary payload, along with 12 cubesats in an integrated payload sta