Firefly Aerospace Receives USAF Statement of Support for Use of Vandenberg Launch Complex

Space Launch Complex 2 West with Delta II booster. (Credit: NASA)

CEDAR PARK, Texas, May 1, 2018 (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a developer of orbital launch vehicles for the small to medium satellite market, announced today that the United States Air Force (USAF) has issued a “Statement of Support for the Firefly Aerospace Program, Alpha and Beta Launch Vehicles” to utilize Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) Space Launch Complex 2 West (SLC-2W) for future launches of the Firefly Alpha and Beta launch vehicles.

“Firefly Aerospace is greatly appreciative that NASA and the USAF support the transition of SLC-2W to a commercial launch site dedicated to the launch of Firefly vehicles,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “SLC-2W has been an incredible asset for US space missions for over 50 years. We are humbled and honored that Firefly Alpha and Beta launch vehicles will be adding many successful missions to the already storied history of SLC-2W.”

30th Space Wing Commander, Colonel Michael S. Hough, stated: “We are excited to be currently working with a new launch provider, Firefly, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This is a new commercial space lift provider seeking to launch commercial satellites from SLC-2W.”

Firefly’s Director of Launch, Brad Obrocto, added: “Converting an active government launch site to commercial operation is substantially less complex and costly than the greenfield development of a new launch site, saving Firefly years of facility development and substantial capex dollars. This enables Firefly to stay on track for Alpha’s first flight by the third quarter of 2019 and ramp up to monthly launches by the end of 2020. The accommodation of Firefly launch by the USAF significantly enhances Firefly’s ability to service the full spectrum of government and commercial customers from one location and advances Firefly’s vision of ‘Making Space for Everyone.'”

About Firefly Aerospace

Firefly is developing a family of launch vehicles to provide industry-leading affordability, convenience and reliability for dedicated light to medium lift launches. Firefly’s Alpha and Beta vehicles utilize common technologies, manufacturing infrastructure and launch capabilities, providing LEO launch solutions for up to one and four metric tons of payload respectively. Alpha and Beta will provide the space industry with access to frequent launches at the lowest cost/kg, enabling ambitious commercial and exploration missions from LEO to the moon. Headquartered in Cedar Park TX, Firefly has additional presence in Washington, D.C., Dnipro, Ukraine and Tokyo, Japan. Firefly is financed by Noosphere Ventures of Menlo Park, CA.

  • So, is this the first of many such statements to enable the DARPA agile launch thing? Presumably, VAFB is going to have to be made available to a lot of contestants, since it will almost certainly be one of the “any place” places that DARPA will want to qualify.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    Does anybody exactly what kind of presence Firefly has in Dnipro, Ukraine and Tokyo, Japan? Noosphere Ventures seems like curious place. They have a blog post (I guess) called the “”The Top Six Current Launch Systems for Accessing Space” and it lists Falcon Heavy as #1 and Delta IV Heavy as #2. Other articles have some rather egregious typos, e.g. “The New Glenn is named after John Sheppard”.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    Firefly is not getting SLC-2W that easily. Heard that NG-OATK and Blue Origin also want the SLC-2 site for polar launches for the OmegA and New Glenn respectively. We shall see.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I’ll bet Firefly will use some sort of TEL and this agreement will allow them to ‘plug’ into SLC 2 facilities and not necessarily occupy the pad. If they are going to use the pad, I’ll bet it’s with zero modifications, or near zero. I can’t see the USAF paying for the changes needed to transition from supporting something like Delta II to a vehicle like the Firefly. I doubt Firefly has that kind of money either.

  • That would kinda answer my DARPA agile launch question. DARPA tells you where to launch and you set up your stuff and launch there. Infrastructure was always the long pole in the tent for this to work. Getting the providers to make nice with the pad owners is essential.

    The same thing seems like it has to happen with launch processing hangers.