Dec 5, 2023
Firefly Aerospace, Inc., an end-to-end space transportation company, today announced it was selected to develop an analytical framework for aggregated on-orbit spacecraft hubs in support of DARPA’s 10-Year Lunar Architecture (LunA-10) capability study. Based on the capabilities of Firefly’s Elytra orbital vehicles, the spacecraft hubs would provide responsive tasking for a wide range of cislunar services, such as refueling, delivery, and transport.
“Firefly is best known for finding innovative solutions to some of the most complex challenges in the industry,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “We’ve identified a path to drastically improve on-orbit mission response times from years to days with scalable spacecraft hubs that can host and service spacecraft across cislunar space. This team is ready to hit the ground running in support of this critical DARPA initiative and the responsive space needs of the larger cislunar ecosystem.”
DARPA’s LunA-10 initiative aims to rapidly develop frameworks in seven months to guide development of integrated commercial lunar infrastructure for the next decade. It seeks to include solutions for shareable, scalable systems that can be commercially available on and around the Moon by 2035.
Firefly’s contribution will include a framework for an aggregated hub of on-orbit spacecraft that dock together and offer on-demand services to both visiting spacecraft and dispersed spacecraft across cislunar space. The core services offered to visiting spacecraft would include propellant transfers, payload transfers, and sharing of power, computation, and thermal resources. Firefly’s Elytra vehicles based at these hubs would also offer responsive mission services for payload delivery, orbital transfers, repositioning, and de-orbiting.
“With launch, lunar, and on-orbit vehicles, Firefly is in a unique position to support DARPA’s LunA-10 program,” said Jana Spruce, Vice President of Spacecraft at Firefly Aerospace. “Our versatile Elytra vehicles can be rapidly deployed aboard our launch vehicles and docked together to provide more robust on-orbit services for both government and commercial customers.”
The framework will further define the robotic interfaces, operational protocols, and distributed controls necessary to allow any supplier’s spacecraft to aggregate on the hub, resupply on resources, and then be redeployed on-demand. Initial hubs would aggregate at the Earth-Moon Lagrange points to provide rapid, cost-effective mission services for any spacecraft on a lunar- or Earth-bound trajectory.