In addition to being the anchor customer, Spaceflight will sign, manage, integrate, and deploy multiple payloads on the flight, enabling Firefly to maximize its full 630 kilogram launch capacity on the commercial Alpha mission to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). Also, according to the LSA, Spaceflight will help maximize payload capacity aboard future Firefly Alpha launches.
Curt Blake, CEO and president of Spaceflight, said:
“Spaceflight has long been committed to providing reliable, cost-effective access to space and we are eager to partner with Firefly, as both companies share this exciting vision. In fact, we have many customers in mind, including some specifically in APAC, which we believe will benefit from this additional capacity and flexibility. Spaceflight is honored to secure the primary payload aboard an Alpha flight in 2021, and we very much look forward to working closely with the Firefly team to accelerate more small satellite rideshare launches for the industry.”
Dr. Tom Markusic, Firefly CEO, said:
”Alpha launches in 2021 will play a key role in establishing our manifest and production capability, and having Spaceflight’s deep payload integration expertise in our corner is an important part of our overall launch strategy. Our Alpha launch vehicle will quickly fill a major market gap with the capability to deliver 1 metric ton to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 630 kilograms to the highly desirable 500 kilogram SSO, about four times the current payload capability of other small satellite launch vehicles.”
The Alpha launch vehicle is designed to address the needs and demands of the burgeoning small-satellite market, combining the highest payload performance with the lowest cost per kilogram to orbit in its vehicle class. Alpha will provide launch options for both full vehicle and rideshare missions.
Spaceflight has launched a record-setting 271 satellites via 29 rideshare missions, establishing itself as the leading rideshare service provider, offering comprehensive launch and integration services across a global portfolio of vehicles. Spaceflight executed nine missions in 2019, the most rideshare launches the company has performed in one year. The company also completed the first-ever rideshare mission to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) in 2019, launching the first privately funded lunar lander.
Leading up to the maiden flight of the Alpha launch vehicle later this year, final acceptance of the first and second stage will take place over the next several months at Firefly’s test facilities in Briggs, Texas, with hardware deployments to Vandenberg planned for early summer. Firefly teams are also integrating new composite technologies into its overall manufacturing capabilities, with the goal of boosting production of its launch vehicles to align with demand growth over the next few years.
AS9100 quality certification
Firefly also announced that it has secured AS9100 quality certification as it advances from developmental to production phase ahead of the inaugural flight of its Alpha launch vehicle later this year.
Firefly has passed all quality audit requirements and received its AS9100 certification, the widely adopted and standardized benchmark designed to ensure quality management practices across the aerospace industry. Additionally, Firefly requires all suppliers to be AS9100 certified, which has bolstered its quality assurance program as qualification tests this spring lead to full production capabilities.
Dr. Tom Markusic:
“Our AS9100 certification marks a key milestone in the maturation of Firefly as we move from development into the production phase of the Alpha launch vehicle. We are well positioned to take on new contracts and development opportunities. At Firefly, we blend heritage-space principles used to achieve high reliability with NewSpace nimbleness and flexibility, allowing us to rapidly develop economical and high-quality products.”
Firefly will leverage its AS9100-certified quality assurance program in support of a broad range of spacecraft, including its Alpha launch vehicle, Beta launch vehicle, Genesis lunar lander, and Orbital Transfer Vehicle.
Paul Garland, Firefly’s Director of Quality Assurance, who has nearly 35 years of experience driving quality operations for leading aerospace companies, noted:
“This important AS9100 certification formalizes the strict focus on quality that Firefly has always demanded of itself and its suppliers and partners. Firefly’s certified quality processes provide further assurance to our commercial and government customers that we will successfully execute their critical space missions.”