Firefly Welcomes ULA Veteran as New Vice President

CEDAR PARK, Texas, June 13, 2018 (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a developer of orbital launch vehicles for the small to medium satellite market, announced today that Leslie Kovacs has joined Firefly as Vice President of Business Development. Kovacs has over 30 years of space launch industry experience, most recently at United Launch Alliance (ULA) as Director of Executive Branch affairs where he helped shape federal policy and acquisition approaches for the $57B Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Kovacs will be based in Firefly’s Washington D.C. office.

“Les adds an extraordinary depth of experience to our team,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “He has hands-on launch experience working as an Air Force Space Operations Officer and as an operations manager for Orbital Science’s X-34 and Antares vehicles. Combined with his extensive experience working with the White House, NASA and the Departments of Commerce and Defense, Les brings capabilities and knowledge of Washington executive branch, regulation and procurement affairs to Firefly that are key to supporting our global business development strategy.”

Additional notable accomplishments in Kovacs’ career include acting as a launch controller at Cape Canaveral, developing architectures for Lunar and Martian surface habitation, leading concept of operations efforts for launch vehicles to replace the Space Shuttle and developing the United States Air Force “Spacelift” course, where he instructed classes in orbital mechanics, launch vehicle design and range and flight safety operations.

Dr. Max Polyakov, Firefly Co-founder, said, “We have assembled a world class team at Firefly and we will continue to aggressively hire top tier individuals as we prepare for our first launch in the third quarter of 2019. We welcome Les to the Firefly family with the knowledge that his extensive experience will further accelerate Firefly’s business development.”

“We are witnessing the transition of space to commercial enterprise. From populating large satellite constellations to the commercialization of cislunar space, the moon and beyond, Firefly is uniquely situated to provide reliable and economical access to space for this burgeoning industry through its Alpha and Beta launch vehicles,” said Leslie Kovacs. “I’m excited to join Firefly in pursuit of our shared vision of ‘Making Space for Everyone’.”


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.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You would think they would have learned from XCOR that executives from Old Space don’t do well running New Space firms…

  • Michael Halpern

    Maybe this one has learned, XCOR had multiple problems, leaving it’s tallent base for a lower tax location, going straight for a complicated vehicle before they even made it to space, and anti-turbopump syndrome. On that last while their alternative to turbopumps was clever, i have to wonder if there was any real benefit when you consider the additional R&D, granted metal 3d printing wasn’t where it is now.

  • Steve Ksiazek

    It seems he’s more of a paid lobbyist. I’m sure that Firefly’s DC office is much smaller than the SpaceX office. He might just work out of his home.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    Yeah, I think the last 10 years have proven their anti turbopump stance misguided. I recall Jeff Greason pejoratively describing small pump development as an exercise in watch making. Ursa Major is shipping small turbopump ORSC engines. Rocketlab has flown to orbit on small centrifugal pump fed engines. You’d be correct to remind me that Rockelabs engines are electrically pumped, but their electric pumps have more in common with a conventional turbopump than XCORs reciprocating pumps. Relativity has successfully tested their turbopump expander cycle engine.

    Barber Nichols will sell a pump to anybody with a checkbook. SpaceX. Virgin Orbit. Firefly.

  • Michael Halpern

    yup I was thinking of Rocket lab as well, it is basically an electrically driven turbo-pump. Add to that in micro-grids especially, micro turbines are a thing, and while different thats still miniaturized turbo-machinery