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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USAF Selects 8 Companies to Compete for Launch Contracts

The U.S. Air Force has selected eight companies to compete for $986 worth of launch contracts under its Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) program. The companies include:

  • Aevum Inc., Huntsville, Ala.;
  • Firefly Black LLC, Cedar Park, Texas;
  • Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Chandler, Ariz.;
  • Rocket Lab USA Inc., Huntington Beach, Calif.;
  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, Calif.;
  • United Launch Alliance, Centennial, Colo.;
  • VOX Space LLC., El Segundo, Calif.;
  • Xbow Launch Systems Inc., Auburn, Calif.;

“The contract seeks to capitalize on the emerging small launch providers while providing dedicated and primary launch services to the Department of Defense and other government agencies,” the U.S. Air Force said in announcing the selections.

“The program allows for the rapid acquisition of launch services to meet mission requirements for payloads greater than 400 pounds, enabling launch to any orbit within 12-24 months from task order award,” the announcement added.

The eight companies will be competitive for indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contracts under OSP-4.

Firefly Aerospace, Israel Aerospace Industries Enter Exclusive Agreement for U.S. Commercialization of Beresheet Lunar Lander Technology

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

CEDAR PARK, TexasJuly 9, 2019 (Firefly Aerospace/IAI Industries PR) — Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft and in-space services, announced today that it has signed an Intellectual Property and Engineering Support Agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for technology based on its Beresheet Lunar Lander. Firefly Aerospace is one of the nine companies selected by NASA to participate in the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver science payloads to the surface of the Moon.

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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, Airbus Sign MOU to Partner on Launch Solutions for Constellations

CEDAR PARK, Texas, March 19, 2019 (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 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus) to develop new space launch solutions for Airbus customers.

“Firefly is pleased to enter into an MOU with Airbus to formulate an integrated market offering that will provide Airbus customers rapid deployment of Airbus manufactured satellites,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “We are very impressed by the versatility and low cost of the Airbus ARROW platform and Airbus’s investment in leading edge satellite mass production capabilities. We look forward to working closely with Airbus to bring economical launch solutions to their customers. This initial MOU covering several launches is the first step of a long-term relationship which will provide Airbus customers the highest level of flexibility for their small satellite launches.”

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D-Orbit Signs Framework Agreement with Firefly to Acquire Launch Capacity

FINO MORNASCO, Italy, March 4, 2019 (D-Orbit PR) — D-Orbit S.p.A., an Italian service provider of the New Space sector, signed a multi-year framework agreement with US-based launch operator Firefly Aerospace Inc. (Firefly) to purchase launch capacity of the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle.

The agreement grants D-Orbit the status of a preferred launch aggregation partner for the European market, allowing D-Orbit to purchase, market, and resell launch vehicle capacity, and to provide logistics support and integration activities at its operational premises in Italy.

“We are proud of this partnership with Firefly, one of the most innovative small payload launch operators,” said Pietro Guerrieri, D-Orbit Chief Strategic Officer. “Capitalizing on the capabilities of ION CubeSat Carrier, our free-flying CubeSat deployer, we are expanding our launch services portfolio and taking an additional step in our roadmap to offer the New Space market an innovative launch transportation solution.”

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Firefly Aerospace Signs Deal with Space Florida to Establish Operations & Launch Rockets from Cape Canaveral

Firefly Aerospace and Space Florida officials announce partnership. (Credit: Space Florida)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACEPORT, Fla. and CEDAR PARK, Texas, Feb. 22, 2019 (Space Florida PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft and in-space services, announced today the execution of a binding term sheet with Space Florida, under which Firefly will establish business operations at Cape Canaveral Spaceport, including launch operations at historic Space Launch Complex 20 and manufacturing facilities at Exploration Park, Florida. Firefly’s announcement is concurrent with its receipt of a Statement of Capability from the 45th Space Wing.

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Firefly Aerospace Selected to Compete for NASA CLPS Lunar Delivery Contracts

CEDAR PARK, Texas, Nov. 29, 2018  (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft and in-space services, announced today that they have been selected by NASA for award of a Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract.

The principal purpose of NASA’s CLPS program is to acquire end-to-end commercial payload services between the Earth and the lunar surface for NASA Headquarters’ Science, Human Exploration and Operations, and Space Technology Mission Directorates (SMD, HEOMD, and STMD).

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