Texas-based startup Firefly Aerospace successfully launched its Firefly Alpha this weekend, joining a growing number of orbit-capable space startups.
The mission, which deploys the satellite into low-Earth orbit, marks a long-awaited step for the newly formed launch service provider.
Firefly Aerospace is an American private aerospace firm based in Austin, Texas, that develops launch vehicles for commercial launches to orbit.
The company completed its $75 million Series A investment round in May 2021, which was led by DADA Holdings. The current company was formed when the assets of the former company Firefly Space Systems were acquired by EOS Launcher in March 2017, which was then renamed Firefly Aerospace.
Firefly Aerospace is a proponent of NewSpace: a movement in the aerospace industry whose objective is to increase access to space.
Firefly Alpha ( Firefly α ) is a two-stage orbital expendable launch vehicle developed by the American company Firefly Aerospace to compete in the commercial small satellite launch market. Alpha is intended to provide launch options for both full vehicle and rideshare customers.
The first launch attempt was on 3 September 2021 but the vehicle did not reach orbit when one of the first stage engines failed during ascent.
A second orbital test flight took place on 1 October 2022 and successfully reached orbit.
In the 2000s, entrepreneurs began designing—and by the 2010s, deploying—space systems competitive to the governmental systems of the early decades of the space age. These new offerings have brought about significant market competition in space launch services after 2010 that had not been present previously, principally through the reduction of the cost of space launch and the availability of more space launch capacity.
Private spaceflight accomplishments to date include flying suborbital spaceplanes ( SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo ), launching orbital rockets, flying two orbital expandable test modules ( Genesis I and II ), and launching astronauts to the International Space Station ( ISS ).
Looking forward to the better development of private spaceflight in the future!