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Firefly Aerospace Announces New Customer Agreements, Completes Stage 1 Acceptance Testing Ahead of 1st Alpha Launch

Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, today announced the successful acceptance test of the first stage of its Alpha launch vehicle for its inaugural flight later this year, and the execution of new customer agreements.

Firefly has signed a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Spire Global (Spire) for the launch of Lemur spacecraft on the Alpha launch vehicle. The LSA will provide for the launch of Spire spacecraft on multiple Alpha missions over the contract period. Firefly has also executed an LSA with Geometric Space Corporation for the full payload capacity of an Alpha launch vehicle.

Robert Sproles, Senior Director, Constellation Planning and Operations at Spire said, “The addition of Firefly Alpha to the Spire launch program further diversifies options to populate and replenish our world leading nanosatellite constellation. We are looking forward to flying many successful missions with Firefly.”

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Samuel Reid, CEO of Geometric Space Corporation said, “With a 1,000 kg payload capacity to low Earth orbit, Firefly Alpha provides a unique capability in the small launch vehicle market.  Geometric Space looks forward to working in conjunction with Firefly and our customers to provide an integrated launch experience on Alpha.”

In addition to the customer agreements, Firefly also provided information on recently achieved Alpha milestones.  The Alpha Flight 1 Stage 1 performed a 35 second static fire, including a full suite of thrust vector control maneuvers. Subsequently, a 15 second final trim test was performed, and the stage will now ship to Firefly’s launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB).

Concurrently, the Alpha Flight 1 payload fairing successfully completed a separation test. The payload fairing separation system was designed and manufactured by Firefly. The system is operationally recyclable, allowing for multiple tests of the flight unit.

Firefly is also nearing completion of its Launch Control Center, Integration Hangar, and launch pad, including assembly of the Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) at historic Space Launch Complex 2 West (SLC-2W) at VAFB. Firefly’s TEL, built by Firefly’s design and fabrication teams in Texas and California, is being integrated and will soon commence ground system activation.

“The successful first stage acceptance testing is the latest in a series of hardware, facilities and test milestones occurring weekly as we approach the inaugural Alpha launch later this year,” said Dr. Tom Markusic, Firefly Aerospace CEO. “Our continued technical successes correspond to increasing confidence and demand from our customers. We welcome Spire and Geometric Space to the Firefly customer family and look forward to delivering their payloads on Alpha, the most capable and economical small launch vehicle on the market.”

The Alpha launch vehicle, which stands 95 feet tall with the capability to deliver 1 metric ton to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 630 kilograms to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO), is designed to fulfill the needs of the burgeoning small satellite market. Combining the highest payload performance with the lowest cost per kilogram to orbit in its class, Alpha provides launch options for both full vehicle and rideshare missions.

“Our Alpha launch vehicle fills a major market gap with its ability to deliver four times the current maximum payload of other small satellite launch vehicles. This successful stage 1 test, combined with previous successful stage 2 testing, fully validates the design and manufacture of the Alpha launch vehicle and positions Firefly as the future leader in the one metric ton small launcher class.” Markusic added. “I had the good fortune to participate in the development of SpaceX Falcon 1 and Falcon 9, over a decade ago.  The current version of Alpha, along with our planned block upgrade to 1,300 kg to LEO, returns long-needed Falcon 1 class mission options to the smallsat market.”

Source: Firefly Aerospace, Inc
Date: Oct 20, 2020

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