General Atomics Awards Contract to Firefly Aerospace to Launch NASA’s Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols Mission

Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite carrying NASA’s Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) instrument. (Credit: General Atomics)

SAN DIEGO, February 18, 2021 (GA-EMS PR) — General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it has awarded a contract to Firefly Aerospace Inc. to launch a GA-EMS developed Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite carrying NASA’s Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) instrument. The launch vehicle delivering the satellite to space will be Firefly’s Alpha rocket and is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2022.

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NASA Awards Firefly Aerospace $93.3M to Deliver Suite of Payloads to the Moon in 2023

Blue Ghost lander on the moon. (Credit: Firefly Aerospace)

CEDAR PARK, Texas, February 4, 2021 (Firefly Aerospace PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, announced that NASA has awarded Firefly $93.3 million to deliver a suite of ten NASA-sponsored science and technology demonstration payloads to Mare Crisium in the Moon’s Crisium basin. Firefly’s ‘Blue Ghost’ lunar lander will deliver the payloads to the lunar surface in 2023 in fulfillment of Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) task order 19D, managed by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

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Firefly Aerospace Announces New Board of Directors and Corporate Expansion Plans

Deborah Lee James and Robert Cardillo. (Credit: Firefly Aerospace)

CEDAR PARK, TEXAS, February 3, 2021 (Firefly PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, announced the appointment of Deborah Lee James and Robert Cardillo to its Board of Directors. Firefly’s new three-person board, including Firefly CEO, Dr. Tom Markusic, will be led by Ms. James, serving as Chairman of the Board.

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Firefly Aerospace and Adaptive Launch Solutions Sign Multi-Launch Agreement

CEDAR PARK, Texas, December 23, 2020 (Firefly Aerospace PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, and Adaptive Launch Solutions (ALS), a designer of multi-manifest hardware, avionics and sequencers, and an integrator of single and multiple satellites, today announced they have signed a multi-year Launch Services Agreement (LSA) which includes four Alpha launches beginning in 2021.

“Small launch provides small satellite owners right sized, right priced access to space meeting their program and business goals,” said Phil Smith, CEO of ALS. “Our agreement with Firefly Aerospace will provide the flexibility and responsiveness demanded by government operators and commercial owners. Under the agreement, ALS is the launch service provider for Alpha Flights 2 and 3, planned for launch in 2021. These two missions offer our customers the earliest commercial launch opportunities on Firefly Alpha. ALS brings to our Firefly partnership decades of launch integration experience, most recently utilized on the United States Space Force (USSF) Launch Manifest Systems Integrator (LMSI) program. The LMSI program team delivers capabilities and integration approaches that establish U.S. government enterprise-wide capability for small satellite delivery to space.”

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Firefly Aerospace to Automate Composite Rocket Production with Ingersoll Machine Tools

CEDAR PARK, Texas  (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, today announced a substantial commitment to increase its manufacturing capacity by transitioning large parts manufacturing to Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) Mongoose Hybrid systems from Ingersoll Machine Tools beginning next year. Once fully operational, Firefly’s AFP capabilities will enable it to produce its all-composite Alpha rocket airframe in as little as fourteen days.

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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 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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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.”

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Firefly Space Systems Assets to be Auctioned on Thursday

The assets of Firefly Space Systems will be auctioned off on Thursday, March 16, in Menlo Park, Calif.

Notice of the auction has been posted by Development Specialists, Inc. There also is a classified advertisement in USA Today.

The company had been developing a small satellite launch vehicle before it suspended operations in September due to financial difficulties.

Virgin Galactic had launched litigation against Firefly co-founder Thomas Markusic, who had previously led Virgin’s effort to develop a competing launcher. Virgin claims that Markusic took intellectual property when he left the company in 2014.











Movement on Firefly-Virgin Galactic Legal Dispute?

This is an interesting Tweet from Firefly Space Systems’ co-founder Michael A. Blum on Wednesday to Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides with a cc: to Whitesides’ boss, Richard Branson. Claude appears to be Claude M. Stern, one of Virgin Galactic’s lawyers.

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Firefly Receives Letters of Intent for 42 Launches

firefly_space_systems_logoLetters of Intent valued at over $300M
exceed projected launch capacity through 2021

CEDAR PARK, Texas, November 14, 2016 (Firefly Space Systems PR) — Firefly Space Systems, the Texas-based developer of dedicated launch vehicles for the small satellite market, announced today it has received letters of intent (LOI) in excess of projected launch capacity through 2021.

“The support from established and newspace satellite manufacturers following our recent announcement of financial difficulties has been tremendous. These LOI’s demonstrate the market demand for the small satellite launch product that Firefly is developing,” said Firefly co-Founder and CEO Dr. Thomas Markusic.

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Virgin Galactic Sues Firefly, Officers for Alleged Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

firefly_space_systems_logoEarlier this month, Virgin Galactic filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Firefly Systems and two of its officers, Michael Blum and P.J. King, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition.

The lawsuit is related to arbitration between Virgin Galactic and the company’s former vice president of propulsion, Thomas Markusic. Virgin alleges Markusic took trade secrets and confidential information with him when he left his position at the end of 2013 to co-found Firefly with Blum and King.

The lawsuit alleges that Firefly, Blum and King benefited from knowledge that Markusic took with him from Virgin Galactic. Markusic and the defendants have denied the claims.

Firefly laid off all of its employees at the end of September, saying the company had run out of money after an investor pulled out.

Firefly was developing a small satellite launcher, Firefly Alpha, that would have competed for business with the LauncherOne booster that Virgin Galactic is developing.











Firefly Planned to Air Launch Small Satellite Booster

firefly_space_systems_logoAn alert reader who goes by the pseudonym “redyns” has pointed out something very interesting about Firefly Space Systems, the company that on Thursday is reported to have laid off its entire staff due to financial difficulties.

In April, Firefly and NASA modified a contract under the Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) program from land launch to air launch, according to the USASpending.gov website. The company’s Firefly α small satellite booster was originally designed to launch vertically from the ground.

The website shows that Firefly was awarded a VCLS contract worth $4.4 million on Sept. 30, 2015. A second contract modification has been made to “deobligate” $2.5 million in funding from the contract. That modification was made on Sept. 27, two days before the layoffs.

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Update on Virgin Galactic-Firefly Litigation

Credit: Daniel Mayer
Credit: Daniel Mayer

Just a brief update on the legal fight between Virgin Galactic and Firefly Space Systems.

The hearing scheduled for today in Los Angeles Superior Court has been postponed until Feb. 23. The hearing concerns a lawsuit filed by Firefly board member P.J. King seeking to overturn an arbitrator’s ruling that he must turn over documents and other materials to Virgin Galactic.

I’ve been getting some inquiries from media about the court documents. The lawsuit filed in LA County Superior Court is online at https://www.lacourt.org/. Do a search in civil cases under online services. The documents are not in the federal PACER system.

The documents for the Clark County, Nevada district court filing were not online the last time I looked. Your best bet would be to contact the parties involved. You will find contact information in the documents filed for the Los Angeles lawsuit.

For anyone who wants to get caught up on this story, here’s Parabolic Arc’s coverage to date:

Updated: Firefly Board Member Sues to Stop Alleged Virgin Galactic “Fishing Expedition” – Dec. 16, 2015

Here’s the Information Virgin Galactic Has Sought From Firefly – Dec. 17, 2015

Former Propulsion Chief Accuses Virgin Galactic of Lying About SpaceShipTwo’s Safety, Performance – Jan. 12, 2016











Former Propulsion Chief Accuses Virgin Galactic of Lying About SpaceShipTwo’s Safety, Performance

SpaceShipTwo after being released for its final flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic/NTSB)
SpaceShipTwo after being released for its final flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic/NTSB)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic’s former vice president of propulsion, Thomas Markusic, has accused Richard Branson’s space company of lying about the safety and performance of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle.

“Dr. Markusic was forced to separate from VG [Virgin Galactic] because the company was defrauding the public about the ability of the vehicles to reach space and was utilizing rocket engine technologies that have a high probability of causing catastrophic failure and loss of life,” according to the document.

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