Firefly Aerospace Reaches Orbit For the First Time
Firefly Aerospace has achieved its goal of delivering satellites into Earth orbit for the first time with a rocket named Alpha. The company’s Alpha rocket successfully lifted off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and delivered a pair of satellites. However, as the rocket tumbled out of control, the company’s CEO decided to step down.
Firefly’s Alpha rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
The second launch of a small satellite launch vehicle from California’s Firefly Aerospace is expected to take place on Friday, Oct. 1. The company’s Alpha rocket is 95 feet high, and is designed to carry about 2,200 pounds of payload. It is intended to target the growing market for small satellites. The first launch of the Firefly rocket, called DREAM, carried several demonstration spacecraft and several small satellites.
The mission is the first of many for the company. The company is balancing the transition from development to operations, while developing new spacecraft and rockets. On September 2, 2021, the Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. However, during the first launch, the rocket suffered a catastrophic anomaly, losing two minutes and thirty seconds of flight time. It then failed to reach maximum aerodynamic pressure, resulting in a horizontal tip over.
After nearly a decade as CEO of Firefly Aerospace, Tom Markusic is stepping down. He is a co-founder of the company and will now transition into a technical advisory role. Markusic will remain a significant minority investor in the company. In the meantime, Peter Schumacher has been named interim CEO.
Polyakov has reportedly been under pressure from government officials to sell his shares in the company, a move that has caused a lot of uncertainty for the company. The decision to sell Polyakov’s shares was made after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. said the company posed no national security risks.
Rocket tumbled out of control
The Alpha 1 rocket’s launch on Sept. 2, 2021, ended in an explosion just two and a half minutes after takeoff. Despite the crash, the Alpha rocket did reach orbit and met some major milestones. In addition to reaching orbit, the rocket reached supersonic speeds.
The Alpha rocket was designed to carry multiple small satellites into orbit. The rocket was launched with a number of small payloads, including a communications module and a low-resolution Earth-imaging camera.