Firefly Aerospace Is Expanding Launch Capabilities For Its Alpha LV

26th Jun 2024
Firefly Aerospace Is Expanding Launch Capabilities For Its Alpha LV

Starting in 2025, Firefly’s Alpha small-class launch vehicle will gain launch capability from a pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Virginia, alongside its Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV ) and Antares 330.

Firefly Aerospace Adds Alpha Launch Capability On Wallops Island

As Firefly Aerospace CEO Bill Weber said last week, the decision will help meet the growing needs of the company’s payload launch customers and provide greater flexibility in the launch schedule. With an increased demand for launch services, expanding the list of available launch sites will ensure that government and commercial customers can realize rapid on-demand missions.

Why Is It A Significant Decision?

Firefly Aerospace says that launching from Wallops, in addition to its existing site at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, will allow it to serve more customers. Using the Virginia site can support launches to lower-inclination orbits than is possible from Vandenberg, which is best suited for sun-synchronous and other high-inclination orbits. Engineers say Alpha launches will require “minimal modifications” to the Pad 0A pad.

In addition to using the launch pad built for the Antares rocket, Firefly will have access to other infrastructure at Virginia’s East Coast Launch Facility – a launch control centre, a horizontal integration facility, vehicle and payload transport equipment, and administrative office space. With East and West Coast launch capabilities, Firefly will further increase Alpha’s launch cadence to a monthly basis by 2026 after launching up to four times in 2024 and six times in 2025.

Firefly’s Previous Launches

Despite its young age, the Texas-based company is already active with market leaders. Lockheed Martin has concluded a partnership agreement on cluster launches for 25 launches on the Alpha rocket until 2029. In addition, Northrop Grumman is partnering with Firefly to improve its Antares 330 rocket for future launches from the same site.

The Alpha launch vehicle
The Alpha launch vehicle is Firefly’s first but smallest rocket. Designed to get 1 metric ton to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) or 630 kilograms to a 500-kilometer Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). Credit: NASA

Last September, Firefly successfully launched the U.S. Space Force’s VICTUS NOX mission with 24 hours’ notice, demonstrating the critical ability of the United States to respond quickly to on-orbit needs in times of conflict or response to a national security threat.

Firefly’s Alpha Rocket

Firefly’s Alpha is a two-stage small rocket made entirely in the United States. It can launch more than 1,000kg into low Earth orbit and combines the highest payload performance with the lowest cost per kilogram in orbit.

Leave a Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Related Articles

Explore Orbital Today