Celebrate Independence Day by Buying a Rocket Test Facility

Employees celebrate the completion of Test Stand 1. (Credit: Firefly Space Systems)

Do you make rocket engines?
Do you need a place to test your rocket engines?
Are you free on July 4?

If you can answer yes to all these questions, then get yourself down to the Burnet County Courthouse in Texas next month. The last vestige of bankrupt Firefly Space Systems — its test facility north of Austin — will be auctioned off beginning at 10 a.m. on July 4.

No, that’s not a typo. Apparently, the county only does real estate foreclosure auctions on the first Tuesday of the month, whether it’s a national holiday or not.

The 199.9 acre property includes a test stand and other structures constructed by Firefly while the company was in operation.

Firefly had been developing the Alpha small-satellite booster, which would have used an aerospike engine. The company laid off all of its employees last September after suffering financial setbacks.

It later went bankrupt, with most of its assets being purchased at auction in March by EOS Launcher, Inc. EOS Launcher had obtained a $1 million promissory note Firefly had signed with Space Florida. It then foreclosed on the company.

According to the  auction notice for the test site, EOS Launcher has since changed its name to Firefly Aerospace, Inc., which is registered in Delaware.

Ukrainian entrepreneur Maxym Polyakov, who made his fortune in online dating, is the man behind EOS Launcher/Firefly Aerospace. He has been pursuing the development of launch vehicles, satellites and ground stations for several years working with engineers in the United States and Ukraine.

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  • JamesG

    So… Is “Firefly Aerospace” is going to borrow Rocket Labs model and have a US Corporate “figurehead” headquarters for the front office, while all the rocket science and mfg is done in Ukraine?

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Firefly is KAPUT!….Are you interested in buying up some of their hardware systems and property on July 4th?

  • JamesG

    Read the last two paragraphs again.

  • duheagle

    My guess, at the time, was that the previous “auction” was a Potemkin Village operation to put Firefly’s assets in the hands of EOS. That turned out to be true. This “auction” will go the same way and EOS will complete its takeover of the old Firefly and become the new Firefly. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. I’m not optimistic we’ll ever see anything resembling Firefly Alpha fly.

  • JamesG

    No of course not because that would be a serious ITAR PITA to accomplish. However you will probably see a Firefly “Beta” actually fly, even though it will bear an uncanny resemblance to the “Cyclone” launcher.

  • Douglas Messier

    Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin sent reps to the last auction. I’m not sure if they were observing or actually put in any bids.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the facility ends up in Firefly Aerospace’s possession in the end. Apparently it’s a good facility.

  • duheagle

    All Ukrainians look alike and are interchangeable. Gotcha.

  • OldCodger

    Probably the best use for it! Danged rockets, near as bad as those pesky railways for upsetting the cattle!

  • JamesG

    wha…. ?

    I think this has to be the dumbest post I’ve seen you make. To date anyway.

  • Sam Moore

    This is like thinking SpaceX are going to make an RSA-3 derivative because Musk is South African.

  • JamesG

    Which he probably could have done if he’d wanted to go that route.