Firefly Alpha Launch Scheduled for Thursday Evening From Vandenberg

Tom Markusic and Lauren Lyons in front of Firefly Alpha rocket on the pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base. (Credit: Firefly Aerospace)

Firefly Aerospace will attempt the maiden flight of its Alpha booster later today from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The window for the rideshare mission extends from 6 to 10 p.m. PDT (0100-0500 UTC on Friday). A livestream of the launch will be available through Everyday Astronaut beginning one hour before the scheduled liftoff.

The rideshare mission will carry a number of payloads, which are show below.

PayloadPurposeCompany/ OrganizationNation
 DREAMCubeSat deployerFireflyUSA
BSS1 (DFAST Demonstrator)Technology demonstrationBenchmark SpaceUSA
CRESST DREAM COMETTechnology demonstrationUniversity of CambridgeUK
Firefly Capsule 1EducationFireflyUSA
FOSSASAT 1bLoRa communicationsFOSSA SystemsSpain
FOSSASAT 2PhotographyFOSSA SystemsSpain
GENESIS LAmateur radio/PropulsionAMSAT-EASpain
GENESIS NAmateur radio/PropulsionAMSAT-EASpain
HiapoThermospheric researchHawaii Science and Technology MuseumUSA
NPS-CENETIX-Orbital 1Technology demonstrationAT&T / NPSUSA
PICOBUS-1PocketQube deployerLibre Space FoundationGreece
QUBIK 1Amateur radioLibre Space FoundationGreece
QUBIK 2Amateur radioLibre Space FoundationGreece
Spinnaker3Technology demonstrationPurdue UniversityUSA
TIS SerenityEducationTeachers in Space, Inc.USA

Source: Wikipedia

The two-stage, 29 meter (95 foot) tall Alpha booster is capable of delivery one metric ton (2,205 lb) to low Earth orbit and 630 kg (1,389 lb) to a 500 km (311 mile) high sun-synchronous orbit. Firefly is charging $15 million for a dedicated launch.

Benchmark Unveils In-Space Mobility Service to Unlock OSAM Innovations

Flexible taxi-like pay-as-you-go propulsion service enables satellite operators and service providers to dramatically reduce upfront mission costs and boost revenues and ROI by converting capex to opex

SCOUT and Orbit Fab have signed the first Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) agreements to speed their OSAM missions

BURLINGTON, Vt., June 23, 2021 (Benchmark Space Systems PR) – Benchmark Space Systems, a leading provider of in-space mobility products and services, today announced a breakthrough in-space mobility service that virtually eliminates upfront propulsion equipment costs and boosts on-orbit, servicing, assembly and manufacturing (OSAM) mission revenues by allowing satellite operators and service providers to pay as they go for in-space transport.

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Spaceflight Inc.’s Next-Gen Sherpa OTV Program Showcases Innovative Modular Design of its Flight-Proven Subsystems

Next-gen Sherpa OTV (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SEATTLE, June 7, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, will debut newly developed technical innovations utilized for its next-generation Sherpa program, enabling small satellite transportation throughout cislunar space in a way that has never been accomplished before. Intentionally architected with modular plug-and-play subsystems, Spaceflight’s next-gen Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) program offers customers flexibility and customization, including multiple types of propulsion for last-mile delivery, flight-proven avionics and separation sequencers, rich deployment telemetry and imaging systems, direct space-to-ground networks, and more. Based on a standardized 24” ESPA port, the Sherpa OTVs offer a reconfigurable 300 kilogram payload capacity and are sized to launch on most rockets.

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Benchmark and Starfish Space Team to Enable Precision On-Orbit Services

Tanker 1 satellite. (Credit: Orbit Fab)

Duo testing Starfish CEPHALOPOD RPOD software with Benchmark’s Halcyon thruster powering first-ever Orbit Fab tanker maneuvers in space

BURLINGTON, Vt. and KENT, Wash., May 18, 2021 – The future of the space economy relies heavily on servicing infrastructure and vehicles that can make precision maneuvers to successfully approach, inspect and dock with spacecraft in need of refueling, maintenance and a wide range of on-orbit services.

Starfish Space, a satellite servicing company, and Benchmark Space Systems, a leading provider of in-space mobility systems and services, today announced a strategic collaboration to advance precision on-orbit refueling and docking capabilities, beginning with demonstrations during Orbit Fab’s Tanker 1 mission launching next month aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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Eight Companies Join Catalyst Accelerator’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing Cohort

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 19, 2021 (Catalyst Accelerator PR) — Eight small businesses will come together virtually from across the country for the Catalyst Accelerator’s cohort focused on On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing.

The Catalyst Accelerator, powered by the Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), was developed to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer for the government to industry and vice versa. The implications for in-space manufacturing are seemingly limitless. Therefore, the US Space Force, in conjunction with AFRL/RV, is seeking bold and disruptive technologies enabling on-orbit servicing and manufacturing.

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Spaceflight Inc. Awarded NASA LLITED Launch Contract

Sherpa variants (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SEATTLE (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the global launch services provider, announced today it has been awarded a launch service contract for the integration and launch of NASA’s LLITED mission, two 1.5U spacecraft. Spaceflight Inc. will transport the NASA Low-Latitude Ionosphere/Thermosphere Enhancements in Density (LLITED) CubeSats to low Earth orbit on its Sherpa-LTC orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) at the end of the year aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. For this mission, the Sherpa-LTC, which uses chemical propulsion from Benchmark Space Systems, will make its initial spacecraft deployments and then ignite and maneuver to another orbital destination to deploy the NASA CubeSats.

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Orbit Fab and Benchmark Space Systems Team to Establish In-Space High-Test Peroxide-based Refueling, Servicing Infrastructure

SAN FRANCISCO  and  BURLINGTON, VT, February 23, 2021 (Orbit Fab PR) – Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space™ company, and Benchmark Space Systems (BSS), a leading provider of in-space mobility solutions, today announced a green, hydrogen-peroxide-based refueling and servicing infrastructure partnership to extend satellite missions and provide the essential fuel for the evolving ecosystem in space.

As part of the teaming, Orbit Fab will bundle its RAFTI fluid transfer interface with Benchmark’s Halcyon thruster system to offer an integrated refillable, non-toxic propulsion package. The innovative refueling solution is set for a technical demonstration at the SpaceX launch pad and in space aboard Orbit Fab’s first operational fuel depot to be lifted into orbit on a Falcon 9 later this year.

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Spaceflight Inc. Unveils Propulsive Orbital Transfer Vehicles to Launch Smallsats to Custom Orbital Destinations

Sherpa variants (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

New OTVs, slated to launch in 2021, will minimize the impact of extended development timelines and schedule delays while providing increased launch flexibility 

SEATTLE, November 12, 2020 (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, announced today that it is developing two additional next-generation orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) that will debut in 2021. Its first, Sherpa-FX, will fly on a fully dedicated rideshare mission with SpaceX, dubbed SXRS-3 by Spaceflight, no earlier than December 2020. The next two ESPA-class space vehicles in the company’s portfolio are designed to provide more orbital diversification, including flexible manifest changes, deployment to multiple altitudes and orbital planes, and rapid launch solutions. 

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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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Spaceflight Inc. and Benchmark Space Systems Sign Exclusive Deal for Green Propulsion On Next-Gen Sherpa Vehicles

Sherpa-FX transfer vehicle (Credit: Spaceflight)

BURLINGTON, Vermont, August 5, 2020 (Benchmark Space Systems PR) – Benchmark Space Systems, a leading provider of green in-space propulsion systems for small satellites, today announced an exclusive services agreement with rideshare leader Spaceflight Inc. to provide a full range of non-toxic chemical propulsion solutions designed to accelerate satellite rideshare deployments to prime orbital locations aboard its next-generation Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs).

Announced last month, Spaceflight’s first OTV in the Sherpa-NG family, Sherpa FX, will carry 16 customer spacecraft and several hosted payloads aboard a Falcon 9 no earlier than December 2020.

Benchmark’s safe chemical propulsion will be equipped on an upgraded vehicle called Sherpa-LT as early as late next year. Benchmark’s propulsion features a patented On-Demand Pressurization System (ODPS) that securely fires up the thruster once the OTV is safely in space and deployed from the launch vehicle.

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NASA Funds Six Small Spacecraft Technologies for Development

NASA has selected six small satellite technology projects for continued development under phase II of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The selected proposals included: two projects focused on in-space propulsion; two systems for de-orbiting satellites; one project focused on radiation shielding for small spacecraft; and an improved turbo-pump for small satellite launch vehicles.

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