Firefly Aerospace is getting ready for their first ever launch of their Alpha rocket. If the launch is successful, it would be a breakthrough moment for small rockets everywhere.
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Alpha is designed to lift up to 1 metric ton of cargo into low-Earth orbit, which may put it at an advantage over other small rocket companies. And Firefly’s goal is to make these launches as affordable as they can, which in the space industry means about $15 million dollars. But because this first mission is a test flight, Alpha won’t be carrying the usual expensive payloads — like a massive telecommunications satellite. It will be carrying something a bit more inspirational.
Called Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission or DREAM, the payload will carry seven projects from groups who typically wouldn’t have the financial resources to get a ride into space.
The rocket was originally scheduled to launch in early 2020, but then the pandemic happened, delaying supply shipments and adding social distancing measures. But after months of tests, their work is finally paying off.
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Rocket builder Firefly Aerospace aims for first launch from California in late December, CEO says
"Standing at 95 feet tall, Firefly’s Alpha rocket is designed to launch as much as 1,000 kilograms of payload to low Earth orbit – at a price of $15 million per launch."
Firefly closes in on debut flight with rocket delivery to Vandenberg launch site
"Across the world, several startup launch providers such as Relativity Space, Astra, Virgin Orbit, and others are currently in fierce competition with one another to bring their in-development rockets into operation and obtain a share of the ever-growing small satellite launch market."
Firefly aims to debut its Alpha rocket for small satellites this fall
"The impending Alpha launch is a big milestone for a company whose predecessor entity, Firefly Space Systems, entered bankruptcy protection in 2016. Firefly Aerospace representatives said that step was taken because an early investor needed to pull out due to Brexit."
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