Firefly Alpha


Firefly Space Systems ----------------> Firefly Aerospace / Dnipro Rocket Center

Firefly Space Systems, a ground-based, small satellite launch company, has officially announced its first launch vehicle,Firefly Alpha.” This efficient, brand new vehicle is capable of carrying 400kg into low earth orbit and will be the world’s first dedicated light satellite launch vehicle in this mass class.
Following its official launch and seed funding in January 2014, Firefly has aggressively moved forward in its mission to lower the prohibitively high costs of small satellite launches to Low Earth and Sun Synchronous Orbits with the goal of revolutionizing broadband data delivery and earth observation missions.
"Firefly Alpha represents a revolution in light satellite launch design. It’s the first vehicle in a scalable family of launchers specifically designed to address the needs of the light satellite (< 1,000kg) community. Featuring an aerospike engine and the lowest launch cost in its class, this all-composite launch vehicle is set to completely transform the entire industry."

CEDAR PARK, Texas, Sept. 10, 2015 -- Firefly Space Systems announced that it has successfully tested its first rocket engine, Firefly Rocket Engine Research 1 ("FRE-R1").
Firefly is developing one combustor design that will be utilized to power both stages of their small-sat launcher  "Firefly Alpha." The Alpha upper stage will utilize an engine (FRE-1) with a single combustor, whereas the first stage engine (FRE-2) will use an array of twelve of the same combustors arranged in an annular aerospike configuration.
FRE-R1 is a propulsion pathfinder for both stages of Alpha. It operates using LOX/RP-1 propellants, but the basic combustor design can utilize either methane or RP-1 fuels. The upper stage variant of the engine (FRE-1) will produce 7,000 lbf thrust, and the first stage cluster used in FRE-2 will produce 125,000 lbf thrust.
The first stage of Firefly Alpha will incorporate 12 "aerospike" engines arrayed in a ring pattern. Aerospike engines — which are wedge-shaped, without the familiar bell-shaped rocket nozzle — use aerodynamic principles to increase efficiency across the broad range of pressures experienced during flight.

After going bankrupt and being liquidated in March 2017, the company was re-created as Firefly Aerospace.

New Firefly Aerospace is a private aerospace firm based in Austin, Texas. After going bankrupt of Firefly Space Systems and being liquidated in March 2017, the company was re-created as Firefly Aerospace by Noosphere Ventures, who bought out the assets of former Firefly Space Systems. Firefly Aerospace is now working on the Alpha 2.0 launch vehicle which has a significantly larger payload capability than the previous Alpha developed by Firefly Space Systems. It aims to place a 1,000 kg payload into a 200 kilometer low earth orbit.
 The plans for engine development were significantly altered by the new management, and the revised Alpha vehicle features a pump-fed engine and removes the aerospike configuration. The reorganization has delayed development by approximately a year, with the first launch expected in the third quarter of 2019.

It utilizes Reaver-1 and Lightning-1 engines and a lightweight carbon composite structure to reduce launch weight, resulting in improved payload fraction.
Development of engines and structures has resumed and Firefly Aerospace has performed multiple hot-fire tests of its Lightning-1 second stage engine on its existing horizontal test stand. A vertical stage test stand is nearing completion and stage testing is expected to begin in the second half of 2018.

2018, February -- Firefly Aerospace has obviously abandoned the plan to develop an Aerospike engine for the first stage of its Alpha rocket. For the new Alpha, a conventional engine "Reaver-1" is in development.
Both Firefly engines use copper regen-cooled RP-1/LOX thrust chambers, a simple tap-off cycle which drives single shaft turbopumps, nozzle-mounted turbine exhaust manifolds, and hydraulic actuators. Innovations in Firefly engines include our simple “Crossfire” injector, tap-off geometry, dual-mounted electrically actuated, trim-able propellant main valves, and ultra-compact horizontal turbopump mounting. The upper stage engine, “Lightning,” includes a turbine-exhaust cooled refractory metal high area ratio nozzle extension. The first stage “Reaver” engines feature simple single axis gimballing.



2022, October 01 -- The second attempt was successful (2022-122). Several small satellites were transported into a LEO.

2021,September 03 -- The maiden flight ended with malfunction and explosion at +150 sec.