Briggs, Texas, February 28, 2024 – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., an end-to-end space transportation company, today held an official ribbon cutting in celebration of the company’s Rocket Ranch expansion in Briggs, Texas. Firefly more than doubled the size of its manufacturing facilities, added two new test stands, and installed state-of-the-art machinery to support the production of Northrop Grumman’s Antares 330 and the Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) the companies are co-developing together.

Firefly’s expanded manufacturing space from 92,000 to 207,000 square feet includes two new large-scale buildings for rocket production, assembly, and integration. The company also built a new higher thrust engine stand to test Firefly’s Miranda and Vira engines with up to 230,000 pounds of thrust and five times the load capacity as Firefly’s current Reaver and Lightning engine stand. Designed to accommodate three engine bays as production cadence increases, the new stand provides redundant, high accuracy thrust and mass flow rate data to further improve mission assurance.

The expansion also includes a new 100-foot structural test stand to conduct pressurized axial loading to mimic flight loads. In total, Firefly now has six test stands at its Briggs location to support the robust testing performed across all vehicle lines.

“After Firefly signed the MLV agreement with Northrop Grumman, we went immediately to work on our Briggs expansion, which has been completed in less than a year’s time,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “Along with the expansion, we’re taking advantage of automated machinery to further advance our rapid production schedule while improving efficiencies and lowering costs.”

Firefly is utilizing a new automated fiber placement (AFP) machine, sourced from Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc., a brand of Camozzi Group’s Machine Tool Division, to rapidly fabricate the carbon composite structures, including barrels, domes, and other composite structures for the first stage of Antares 330 and both stages of MLV. Now operational, the AFP machine was recently used to build Firefly’s first carbon composite barrel for MLV development testing.

“Firefly’s new AFP machinery, which is already widely used and proven in the aircraft industry, is a significantly more efficient and cost-effective approach to rocket production and can be utilized for composite parts across our vehicle lines,” said Dan Fermon, COO of Firefly Aerospace. “These high-speed robotic machines can lay up more than 200 pounds of carbon fiber per hour, allowing us to produce all the large carbon composite structures for Alpha in just seven days and MLV in just 30 days. This is about nine times faster and seven times cheaper than our former process using high-touch laser placement systems.”

In addition to the AFP machine, Firefly is also installing a new 7-axis robotic powermill to drill and trim carbon composite structures with high speed and accuracy. This multi-axis machine, also procured from Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc., can rotate rocket barrels up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) in diameter with a built-in dust collection system.

Other recent facility expansions include two new mission operations centers at Firefly’s spacecraft facility in Cedar Park, Texas, to support a growing number of launch, lunar, and on-orbit missions. Firefly also expanded its Cedar Park headquarters with a mezzanine to accommodate nearly twice as many employees.

About Firefly Aerospace

Firefly is an end-to-end space transportation company with launch, lunar, and in-space services. As an all-American company headquartered in central Texas, Firefly is focused on delivering responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers. Firefly’s small- to medium-lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide the space industry with a single source for missions from low Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon and beyond.

Source: Firefly Aerospace

Cedar 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.

About Firefly Aerospace

Firefly Aerospace is an end-to-end space transportation company with launch, lunar, and on-orbit services. Headquartered in central Texas, Firefly is a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners (“AEI”) focused on delivering responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers. Firefly’s small- to medium-lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide the space industry with a single source for missions from low Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon and beyond.

Source: Firefly Aerospace

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.

About Firefly Aerospace

Firefly is an end-to-end space transportation company with launch, lunar, and in-space services. As an all-American company headquartered in central Texas, Firefly is focused on delivering responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers. Firefly’s small- to medium-lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide the space industry with a single source for missions from low Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon and beyond.

Source: Firefly Aerospace

Cedar Park, Texas, November 8, 2023 – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., an end-to-end space transportation company, today announced a new agreement with Fleet Space Technologies, an Australian space exploration firm, to deliver and operate Fleet’s Seismic Payload for Interplanetary Discovery, Exploration, and Research (SPIDER) on the far side of the Moon. In addition to payloads from NASA and the European Space Agency, the Australian-backed SPIDER payload will fly on Firefly’s Blue Ghost lander as part of Firefly’s second lunar mission in 2026.

“The Firefly team welcomes Fleet Space on our far side lunar mission that will serve as a critical building block for future human and robotic missions to come,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “Firefly proudly supports the growing lunar economy across the United States, Europe, and now Australia, and we invite additional Artemis Accords nations to join us as we collectively build a sustainable presence on the Moon.”

Fleet Space’s SPIDER payload is part of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars initiative that’s aligned with NASA’s Artemis program to support future habitation on the Moon. Upon deployment of the payload, Firefly’s Blue Ghost lunar lander will provide ongoing power and communications, enabling SPIDER to capture seismic data from the lunar surface for up to 14 days. This data will offer insights into the geological properties of the lunar subsurface and its mineral profile, such as water ice, that can support lunar infrastructure and further regolith exploration.

“Fleet is thrilled to contribute our passive seismic SPIDER technology to Firefly’s lunar mission to advance fundamental research into the Moon’s regolith,” said Matt Pearson, Co-Founder and Chief Exploration Officer at Fleet Space Technologies. “Any infrastructure built on other worlds will depend on a deep understanding of the in-situ subsurface composition – and we’re honored to collaborate with the international community to help unlock critical insights for sustaining human life beyond Earth.”

In addition to SPIDER, Firefly’s second lunar mission will deliver the European Space Agency’s Lunar Pathfinder satellite to lunar orbit and NASA’s LuSEE-Night radio telescope to the lunar surface as part of the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. The mission’s two-stage spacecraft design, utilizing Firefly’s Blue Ghost lunar lander stacked on Firefly’s Elytra orbital vehicle, provides robust versatility for both surface and orbital deliveries in support of growing international lunar infrastructure.

Firefly has already completed the preliminary design review for Blue Ghost Mission 2 less than six months after its NASA CLPS award. Firefly is concurrently wrapping up the final milestones for its first mission to the Moon in 2024, and most recently completed the development and assembly of Blue Ghost’s structure and fluid systems.

About Firefly Aerospace

Firefly Aerospace is an end-to-end space transportation company with launch, lunar, and on-orbit services. Headquartered in central Texas, Firefly is a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners (“AEI”) focused on delivering responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers. Firefly’s small- to medium-lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide the space industry with a single source for missions from low Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon and beyond.

About Fleet Space Technologies

Fleet Space Technologies, a leading Australian space company, is revolutionizing humanity’s search for critical minerals, space exploration, and defense with its satellite-enabled solutions and seismic array technology (EXOSPHERE BY FLEET®). Headquartered at the national center of Australia’s space industry in Adelaide, Fleet has expanded its global footprint to the US, Canada, Chile, and Luxembourg with over 100+ employees worldwide.

Source: Firefly Aerospace

Cedar Park, Texas, October 4, 2023 – Firefly Aerospace, an end-to-end space transportation company, today announced it completed the development and assembly of its Blue Ghost lander structure and fluid systems, a critical milestone for Firefly’s first lunar mission slated to land on the Moon in 2024 as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. This mission is one of three task orders Firefly has won under NASA CLPS, accounting for more than $230 million in awards.

“The Firefly team is extremely passionate and dedicated to overcoming any challenge knowing the important role these missions will have in paving the way for the future of space exploration and our nation’s growing lunar economy,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “It’s an exciting accomplishment to see our Blue Ghost lander assembled in Firefly’s Texas spacecraft facility as we get ready to land on the Moon next year.” Firefly’s ability to rapidly design, build, and test its Blue Ghost lunar lander can be credited to its in-house manufacturing and test facilities. The lander’s core components, including the panels, struts, legs, harnesses, avionics, batteries, and thrusters, were designed and built in-house using many of the same flight-proven technologies common to all of Firefly’s launch and orbital vehicles. The team conducted extensive qualification testing on the assembled Blue Ghost structure and each component to ensure the lander will withstand all launch, transit, and landing load cases.

“Firefly is able to have more control over our mission schedules and less dependency on the supply chain thanks to our in-house manufacturing capabilities and facilities that accommodate the development of multiple landers,” said Jana Spruce, Vice President of Spacecraft at Firefly Aerospace. “Our vertically integrated approach with shared components across our vehicles further enables scaled efficiencies, lower costs, and quality assurance that we pass on to our customers.” Blue Ghost Mission 1 will carry commercial and government payloads, including 10 NASA-sponsored instruments, to Mare Crisium on the Moon’s near side. The payloads support NASA’s goal to build a sustainable lunar presence by conducting several first-of-its-kind demonstrations, including testing regolith sample collection, Global Navigation Satellite System abilities, radiation tolerant computing, and lunar dust mitigation. Nearly all of the payloads have been processed at Firefly’s facility and successfully passed fit checks and functional checkouts on the lander.

The next major milestones for Blue Ghost Mission 1 include payload integration followed by environmental testing before the mission launches in 2024. Concurrently, Firefly is ramping up for its second lunar mission, Blue Ghost Mission 2, that will first deploy a satellite to lunar orbit and then deliver multiple payloads to the far side of the Moon in 2026. Mission 2 has remaining capacity to offer payload delivery and orbital services for commercial customers.

About Firefly Aerospace

Firefly Aerospace is an end-to-end space transportation company with launch, lunar, and on-orbit services. Headquartered in central Texas, Firefly is a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners (“AEI”) focused on delivering responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers. Firefly’s small- to medium-lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide the space industry with a single source for missions from low Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon and beyond.

Source: Firefly Aerospace

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