Just on the edge of their first launch, Firefly finally conducts a static fire on their Alpha rocket out in Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Firefly Aerospace released a video showing their first Alpha rocket conducting a static fire. This comes after an attempted static fire back in late May. Firefly is now preparing for the maiden launch of Alpha no earlier than September 2nd.
The Alpha rocket is a smallsat launch vehicle coming in at 29 meters (95 feet) in height and capable of carrying 1000kg to Low Earth Orbit, 630kg to Sun Synchronous Orbit. The Alpha rocket is staged at their launch complex at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This launch site will provide access to high inclination orbits. The rocket fired for 15 seconds without issue.
Firefly is currently set up at SLC-2W, the pad the retired Delta II rocket used. Alpha will also launch from SLC-20 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
With successful static fire, Firefly is set up well in the industry
Alpha won’t be the only launch vehicle from Firefly, they are also developing a vehicle they call Beta. Beta is essentially a scaled-up Alpha that can carry upwards of 8,000kg to Low Earth Orbit. Beta is expected to fly from SLC-20 at CCSFS and presumably SLC-2W at VSFB.
Firefly plans to compete with SpaceX, Rocket Lab, and the rest of the growing smallsat launcher market. This static fire and flight-ready Alpha rocket show they have a strong chance to survive in the growing industry. Firefly, like SpaceX and other new space companies, doesn’t use a long list of contractors for their parts. Instead, they have developed most of their parts in-house.
Along with their rocket, Firefly is also developing a lunar lander for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services contract. This will serve to help the agency’s Artemis program as they hope to be able to send scientific payloads to the lunar surface cheaply and sustainably.
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