Firefly aims to debut its Alpha rocket this fall | | Noosphere Ventures

Firefly aims to debut its Alpha rocket this fall

Firefly aims to debut its Alpha rocket this fall

Aug 13, 2020

Firefly Aerospace’s advanced rocket for small satellites should be ready to launch for the first time this fall.

The two-stage rocket, known as Alpha, was originally scheduled to debut in early 2020. But the coronavirus pandemic intervened and delayed things at Firefly, as well as at other space companies around the world. Some suppliers had to delay shipments, and work slowed due to necessary physical distancing measures.

Now Alpha is almost ready to get off the ground. Firefly is targeting a launch sometime in late October or early November from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, provided final testing and certification go as planned.

Alpha rocket stage two testing

Alpha rocket stage two testing

“Over the last few months, there have been even more challenges than we usually have in this industry,” Robb Kulin, Firefly’s chief operating officer. He was referring to the tight race Firefly is in, as many companies are rushing to serve the flood of cubesats and other small satellites looking to launch to space for Earth observation, telecommunications and other applications.

“Over the last few months, there have been even more challenges than we usually have in this industry,” Robb Kulin, Firefly’s chief operating officer. He was referring to the tight race Firefly is in, as many companies are rushing to serve the flood of cubesats and other small satellites looking to launch to space for Earth observation, telecommunications and other applications.

Though the upcoming Alpha mission is a test flight, the rocket will be carrying satellites — numerous small payloads that are part of Firefly’s Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission. Several academic and educational payloads will ride to space at no cost, as Firefly aims to make space accessible to those that normally cannot afford to participate.

The impacts at Firefly extended beyond the Firefly project. The company is also working on a larger rocket, called Beta, and a robotic moon lander in support of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. Still, Firefly continued to grow amid the pandemic, expanding from 250 employees in January to 310 employees today, largely via funding from company co-founder Max Polyakov.

Continue reading: https://www.space.com/firefly-aerospace-alpha-rocket-launch-2020.html

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