The Firefly crew completed our 1st Miranda hot fire! 7 of these 230,000 lbf engines will power the 1st stage of @northropgrumman's Antares 330 & the Medium Launch Vehicle we're developing together. More to come as we work towards a full-duration hot fire.
November 28, 2023Firefly Aerospace Completes First Miranda Engine Hot Fire TestFirefly Aerospace Miranda engine hot fireCompany designs, builds, and tests fully assembled Miranda engine in just over 12 months for Antares 330 and new Medium Launch Vehicle Cedar Park, Texas, November 28, 2023 – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., an end-to-end space transportation company, completed the first hot fire test for its Miranda engine that will power the first stage of Northrop Grumman’s Antares 330 and the Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) the companies are co-developing together. The critical milestone was completed just over a year after signing the initial contract.The turbopump-fed engine test further validates the design of Miranda’s startup sequence, transient conditions, and tap-off engine architecture at a larger scale. As a next step, the Firefly team will build up to a full-duration, 206-second Miranda hot fire. Once qualified, seven Miranda engines (each capable of producing 230,000 lbf or 1.6 million lbf in total) will power the first stage of Antares 330 and MLV. One Miranda vacuum engine will also power MLV’s second stage with 200,000 lbf.“The incredible progress on our Miranda engines – designed, built, and tested in house in just over a year – is another example of Firefly setting a new standard in the industry,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “Building on the legacy of Firefly’s rapidly developed Reaver and Lightning engines, Miranda is the fastest propulsion system we’ve built and tested to date. This achievement reflects our rapid, iterative culture and our vertically integrated approach that allows us to quickly scale up the flight-proven engine architecture from our small launch vehicle, Alpha, to our Medium Launch Vehicle.” In addition to the Miranda engines, Firefly is designing, manufacturing, and testing the first stage structures for Antares 330 as well as the structures and fluids systems for both MLV stages. To support vehicle production, Firefly is doubling the size of its facilities at its rocket test and production site in Briggs, Texas, and utilizing new automated manufacturing equipment. Now operational, Firefly’s Automated Fiber Placement machine will allow Firefly to produce the carbon composite barrels in a matter of days versus weeks.“Together, we have developed a solution that will help change the trajectory of space launch, from commercial to national security and civil space,” said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, launch and missile defense systems, Northrop Grumman. “Upgrading the first stage of Antares in parallel with developing the Medium Launch Vehicle enables our two companies to bring a new launch vehicle to market more rapidly while also reducing risk in the design process.”Antares 330 will be able to launch more than 10,000 kg to the International Space Station with the first flight scheduled for mid-2025. As the evolutionary successor to the Antares launch vehicle, MLV will first launch in late 2025 and can carry more than 16,000 kg to low Earth orbit with a 5-meter class payload fairing that can be customized based on customer needs.
Cheers to the Firefly team for being selected as a winner of @AviationWeek’s Laureate Awards in honor of our 24-hourVICTUS NOX launch operations! Read more:
[…]SPACE Firefly Aerospace and Millenium Space Systems – Victus Nox In a three-part relay race, Millennium and Firefly coordinated to launch a satellite for the U.S. Space Force in an unprecedented demonstration of rapid response. Millennium had 60 hr. to transport the satellite to Vandenberg SFB, California, fuel it and install a payload adaptor for launch by Firefly's Alpha rocket 27 hr. later. A day and a half after that, the satellite was ready to begin a space domain awareness mission. […]
December 5, 2023Firefly Aerospace Selected to Support DARPA LunA-10 with Framework for On-Orbit Spacecraft HubsCedar Park, Texas, December 5, 2023 – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., an end-to-end space transportation company, today announced it was selected to develop an analytical framework for aggregated on-orbit spacecraft hubs in support of DARPA’s 10-Year Lunar Architecture (LunA-10) capability study. Based on the capabilities of Firefly’s Elytra orbital vehicles, the spacecraft hubs would provide responsive tasking for a wide range of cislunar services, such as refueling, delivery, and transport.“Firefly is best known for finding innovative solutions to some of the most complex challenges in the industry,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “We’ve identified a path to drastically improve on-orbit mission response times from years to days with scalable spacecraft hubs that can host and service spacecraft across cislunar space. This team is ready to hit the ground running in support of this critical DARPA initiative and the responsive space needs of the larger cislunar ecosystem.”DARPA’s LunA-10 initiative aims to rapidly develop frameworks in seven months to guide development of integrated commercial lunar infrastructure for the next decade. It seeks to include solutions for shareable, scalable systems that can be commercially available on and around the Moon by 2035.Firefly’s contribution will include a framework for an aggregated hub of on-orbit spacecraft that dock together and offer on-demand services to both visiting spacecraft and dispersed spacecraft across cislunar space. The core services offered to visiting spacecraft would include propellant transfers, payload transfers, and sharing of power, computation, and thermal resources. Firefly’s Elytra vehicles based at these hubs would also offer responsive mission services for payload delivery, orbital transfers, repositioning, and de-orbiting.“With launch, lunar, and on-orbit vehicles, Firefly is in a unique position to support DARPA’s LunA-10 program,” said Jana Spruce, Vice President of Spacecraft at Firefly Aerospace. “Our versatile Elytra vehicles can be rapidly deployed aboard our launch vehicles and docked together to provide more robust on-orbit services for both government and commercial customers.”The framework will further define the robotic interfaces, operational protocols, and distributed controls necessary to allow any supplier’s spacecraft to aggregate on the hub, resupply on resources, and then be redeployed on-demand. Initial hubs would aggregate at the Earth-Moon Lagrange points to provide rapid, cost-effective mission services for any spacecraft on a lunar- or Earth-bound trajectory.
Firefly to develop framework for spacecraft that can dock together on-orbit to provide on-demand refueling, delivery, transport, and de-orbiting services
January 25, 2024Firefly Aerospace Onboarded as Launch Provider for the NRO with Alpha RocketNew contract qualifies Firefly’s Alpha rocket to launch satellites for the NRO from both Vandenberg and Cape CanaveralCedar Park, Texas, January 25, 2024 – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., an end-to-end space transportation company, today announced it was selected by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to serve as a launch provider with Firefly’s Alpha rocket. As part of the NRO’s Streamlined Launch Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity Contract (SLIC), the agreement has a 10-year ordering period with a ceiling value of $700 million across all firm fixed-price task orders.“Firefly is ready to support the NRO’s responsive space needs as we continue to advance our rapid launch operations capability,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “In order to support the increased demand for Alpha launches, we’ve doubled the size of our facilities, implemented automated carbon composite technologies, and fine-tuned our operations to rapidly produce, test, and launch in response to our customers’ urgent mission needs.”The SLIC program was established by the NRO’s Office of Space Launch to leverage commercial best practices for responsive space missions and encourage competition among emerging launch providers. SLIC is open to U.S. launch vehicles with a proven orbital record and allows providers to bid dedicated, rideshare, or multi-manifest launch services.As a SLIC provider, Firefly is able to compete for NRO launches with its Alpha rocket, capable of lifting more than 1,000 kg to low Earth orbit from the Vandenberg Space Force Base and the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Firefly minimizes launch costs and increases reliability and responsiveness by utilizing robust in-house manufacturing capabilities, sharing components across its vehicles, and leveraging innovative technologies, such as carbon composite sandwich structures and patented tap-off cycle propulsion systems.Firefly’s next Alpha launch for NASA is on track for early 2024. The company will also support a responsive on-orbit mission for the NRO onboard Firefly’s Elytra vehicle in 2024.
Liftoff of Firefly's Alpha FLTA004 Rocket - Credit: Firefly Aerospace / Trevor Mahlmann
Our second lunar payload is now on board Blue Ghost! @AegisAero's Regolith Adherence Characterization (RAC) will uncover how lunar regolith sticks to various materials to protect spacecraft, spacesuits, and habitats from abrasion.
The Victus Nox tactically responsive space satellite has already been taken out of orbit after the September 2023 launch. Victus Haze is up next, the award is expected within weeks.
VICTUS NOX has laid a significant foundation that the U.S. Space Force will continue to build upon in order to normalize TacRS operations. The next demonstration, VICTUS HAZE, is expected to be awarded in the coming weeks.
They say everything is bigger in Texas and we couldn’t agree more! Our Rocket Ranch has doubled in size with new manufacturing buildings, test stands, and automated machinery. This expansion will largely support the new medium launch vehicle we’re co-developing with @northropgrumman and can be utilized for rapid manufacturing and testing across our vehicle lines. https://fireflyspace.com/news/firefly-aerospace-doubles-facilities-in-briggs-texas-to-support-medium-launch-vehicle/
Closing out a very busy day, we had an opportunity to see @Firefly_Space Blue Ghost lunar lander, which is set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket later this year.
Taking a visit to @Firefly_Space manufacturing facilities in Texas today. One of our first stops is vehicle integration. This vehicle is preparing to support the NASA ELaNa 43 mission.Firefly plans to launch 4 times this year and then 6-8 times in 2025.
.@Firefly_Space CEO Bill Weber speaking about the expansion of manufacturing space here in Texas.
Guess its safe to say they will not be building any factories in Florida now. Did they return the land to Space Florida?
https://twitter.com/w_robinsonsmith/status/1762926279861399757Quote.@Firefly_Space CEO Bill Weber speaking about the expansion of manufacturing space here in Texas.Read more: https://spaceflightnow.com/2024/02/28/firefly-aerospace-doubles-texas-footprint-to-support-testing-of-antares-330-mlv-rocket/
In the heart of Texas ranch country, Firefly Aerospace is embracing the pioneering and do-it-all spirit of the frontier. @Firefly_Space
This week we opened Firefly's doors to friends, customers, government officials, and the local community as we celebrated the expansion of our Rocket Ranch. This expansion further allows us to rapidly design, build, and test our vehicles as we prepare to launch, land, and orbit in 2024. A big thank you to all who joined us in celebrating this milestone. We're grateful for the support!