Firefly is among the many rocket companies currently fighting to gain a small share of the fast-growing satellite launch market. The Texas-based company is now one substantial step closer to getting its piece of the pie with the arrival of its first flight-ready launch vehicle at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The vehicle is called Alpha, a two-stage rocket designed to address the needs of the small-satellite market. Firefly plans to launch Alpha sometime after December 22 from Space Launch Complex 2 West. Once launched, Alpha will also be deploying many small satellites into orbit for the Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission (DREAM).
Firefly Alpha stands at 95 feet tall and will utilize four Reaver engines. It is capable of transporting a 2,204-pound payload into low-earth orbit and a 1,388-pound payload into sun-synchronous orbit.
Firefly has not yet currently flown with the hardware that it will attempt to use in December, but the setup has passed qualification testing. Rocket Lab, a similar rocket company, has also proven that the system should work as it has successfully launched many rockets using it.
Alpha isn’t the only launch vehicle that Firefly is developing. “Beta” is a much larger two-stage orbital launch system that will apparently be capable of carrying a 17,636-pound payload into low-Earth orbit once completed. Firefly is expected to begin actual hardware development for Beta sometime in 2021.
Make sure to follow all of the launch coverage of Firefly Alpha from Space Explored.