Benchmark Space Systems Secures Agreement with Tesseract Space To Provide Full Spectrum of Green In-Space Propulsion Solutions for Small Satellites

BURLINGTON, Vermont, August 5, 2020 – Benchmark Space Systems, a leading provider of in-space propulsion systems for small satellites, today announced a permanent licensing partnership to integrate Tesseract Space intellectual property, assets, and staff to elevate Benchmark’s major expansion in the development, deployment and support of its exclusively non-toxic chemical propulsion solutions for global rideshare markets.

Both Benchmark and Tesseract were founded in 2017 on green propulsion technologies designed to safely and quickly deliver small rideshare satellites the last leg of their space journey to an allotted orbital location, often in hours versus weeks using electric propulsion. Benchmark’s non-toxic propulsion solutions offer as much as one-thousand times the thrust of electric systems.

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Firefly Applies for FCC Permit for September Launch From Vandenberg

Firefly Aerospace has applied for a permit from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a launch of its Alpha booster on Sept. 6-7 from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.

“Once the launch vehicle reaches the mission altitude of 300 km, it will deploy commercial payloads into orbit. “The second stage will complete one full orbit while it downlinks data to VAFB and KSAT ground station locations in Hawaii, Mauritius, and South Africa,” the company said in its application.

Firefly has not yet launched the Alpha booster, which is designed to orbit small satellites.

Firefly Aerospace and Spaceflight Inc. Sign Launch Services Agreement

CEDAR PARK, Texas/SEATTLE, April 22, 2020 (Firefly Aerospace PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, and Spaceflight Inc., the leading launch services and mission management provider, today announced they have signed a Launch Services Agreement (LSA). The agreement confirms that Spaceflight will secure the majority of the payload mass aboard a Firefly Alpha launch, scheduled for lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2021.

In addition to being the anchor customer, Spaceflight will sign, manage, integrate, and deploy multiple payloads on the flight, enabling Firefly to maximize its full 630 kilogram launch capacity on the commercial Alpha mission to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). Also, according to the LSA, Spaceflight will help maximize payload capacity aboard future Firefly Alpha launches.

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Fire Breaks Out at Firefly Test Site; No Injuries Reported

UPDATE: Firefly Aerospace Issued an updated statement today:

Firefly Aerospace maintains a 200-acre manufacturing and test facility in Briggs, Texas, 27 miles north of its headquarters.

On January 22, 2020, test engineers were conducting a planned test of the first stage of the company’s “Alpha” launch vehicle. The test was to be the first in a series of propulsion tests to verify design and operation of the stage, and involved a short, 5-second firing of the stage’s four engines.

At 6:23 pm local time, the stage’s engines were fired, and a fire broke out in the engine bay at the base of the rocket’s stage. The 5-second test was immediately aborted and the test facility’s fire suppression system extinguished the fire. The cause of the anomaly is under investigation. Firefly engineers are reviewing test data from the stage to identify potential causes for the test failure, and Firefly will share results of that investigation once it is complete.

Firefly is committed to workplace safety, and at no time during the test were Firefly operations personnel or the public in danger. Firefly is coordinating closely with local authorities and emergency response personnel as it investigates the anomaly and refines its contingency procedures.

Firefly Aerospace has said a fuel leak on the test stand caused a fire on Wednesday. The company was preparing for a static fire of the company’s Alpha small-satellite booster.

During testing this evening we experienced a test anomaly resulting in a small fire on our test stand. The fire was quickly extinguished by our fire suppression systems on the stand and the local community emergency response team quickly responded. Both the test stand and our rocket are intact. At no time was there any risk to individuals on site or the community.

In a series of tweets, local authorities said they ordered an evacuation of residents living within 1 mile (.6 km) of the Texas test site “out of an abundance of caution.” They also temporarily closed nearby roads.

Firefly is preparing for a maiden launch of the Alpha rocket this spring.

ISILAUNCH Signs Launch Services Agreement with Firefly Aerospace

CEDAR PARK, Texas, January 21, 2020 (Firefly Aerospace PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc.(Firefly), a provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft and in-space services, announced today the execution of a Launch Services Agreement with Innovative Space Logistics BV (ISILAUNCH), a launch services subsidiary of Netherlands based ISIS – Innovative Solutions in Space B.V. (ISISPACE). Under the agreement, ISILAUNCH will offer to its customers multiple dedicated and rideshare launch opportunities on the Firefly’s Alpha launch vehicle, on missions beginning in 2020.

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Original Firefly Shareholders Sue Firefly’s Markusic, Polyakov Alleging Fraud

Tom Markusic

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A group of original shareholders in the defunct Firefly Space Systems have accused co-founder and CEO Tom Markusic of fraudulently conspiring with Ukrainian billionaire Maxym Polyakov to force the rocket company into bankruptcy in 2017 and reconstitute it under a nearly identical name without giving them any stake in the new venture.

Markusic “betrayed the trust of his original co-founders and investors and committed fraud to cut them out of his aerospace company. Instead of managing the operations of the Original Firefly, a revolutionary rocket company with endless potential, Markusic schemed with…Maxym Polyakov…to rob Plaintiffs of their investments and form a new company called Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (the ‘New Firefly’),” the plaintiffs said in a lawsuit.

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Firefly Aerospace Announces DREAM Payload Participants

CEDAR PARK, Texas, Nov. 19, 2019 (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Firefly Aerospace (Firefly) announced this past summer the Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission (DREAM), a global competition to host academic and educational payloads as rideshare participants on the inaugural flight of the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle. Today we are happy to announce the payloads selected to fly on Alpha’s maiden flight to support and stimulate STEM on a global basis.  There are 26 DREAM payloads representing 7 different countries.

The payloads are broken down into two categories, nontechnical and technical. Nontechnical payloads include children’s artwork, messages from children in pediatric hospitals and photographs of previous space missions. Technical payloads range from 3U to 27U satellites supplied by prominent universities and nonprofits from around the globe.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace to Provide Flexible Access to Space

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne/Firefly Aerospace PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly) are pleased to announce a cooperative agreement that combines the capabilities of both companies to provide flexible, sustainable and highly competitive space access solutions.

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly will serve the growing government and commercial market by providing dedicated small and medium launch capabilities to low Earth orbit (LEO), geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and the Moon. This collaboration will leverage Firefly’s new family of launch vehicles and in-space services with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s experience in propulsion development, additive manufacturing and mission assurance for commercial, national security and exploration missions.

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Firefly Aerospace Provides a DREAM Payload Opportunity

CEDAR PARK, Texas, June 17, 2019 (Firefly Aerospace PR) — The quest for space travel inspires STEM interest like no other endeavor.  Firefly has promoted that interest by opening its doors to youth though Firefly Academy, the Base 11 Space Challenge, and the Firefly International Rocket Event (FIRE).  Today Firefly is taking their STEM commitment literally to the next level by announcing a global competition to host academic and educational payloads, free of charge, on the inaugural flight of the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle.
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Firefly Aerospace Expands Advisory Board With Lightfoot, Nield & Others

CEDAR PARK, Texas, July 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a developer of orbital launch vehicles for the small to medium satellite market, announced today the formation of an all-star advisory board. Members of the board act as ambassadors and advocates of Firefly and support the executive and management teams through consultation and strategic analysis. Initial appointments to the Firefly board are Jeff Bingham, Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr., George Nield, and William F. Readdy.

Jeff Bingham brings nearly 40 years of governmental experience to Firefly. Instrumental in shaping space station policy, he served most recently as the senior advisor on space for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He was previously the associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Legislative Affairs. Jeff played a key role in ensuring continued congressional support for the ISS as the legislative coordinator for the International Space Station program.
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Smallsat 2016: NASA Program & Mission Updates

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)
Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

NASA officials have been providing updates this week on agency programs and missions during the 2016 Small Satellite Conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it. I have pulled together summaries of their presentations drawn from Twitter.  Information has come from the following Tweeters:

  • Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
  • David Hurst ‏@OrbitalDave
  • Hanna Steplewska ‏@spacesurfingirl
  • Augie Allen ‏@AugieAllen
  • RITSpaceExploration ‏@RITSPEX

Enjoy!
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Smallsat 2016: Updates on Launch Vehicle Development

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)
CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

The Small Satellite 2016 Conference got underway today in Logan, Utah. Although I was not able to make it, I’ve been able to follow the conference via Twitter. A number of small satellite launch companies provided updates on launch vehicles they are developing. There is information below on Firefly Space Systems, Nammo, Rocket Crafters, Rocket Lab, Super Strypi, Vector Space Systems and Virgin Galactic.

Information came from the following Tweeters who are attending the conference:

  • Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
  • C. G. Niederstrasser ‏@RocketScient1st
  • David Hurst ‏@OrbitalDave.

Enjoy!
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