Firefly Alpha is the first rocket by Firefly Aerospace, a new competitor in the small sat launch arena. It will launch multiple payloads with a combined mass of 1000 kg to LEO from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Like the Electron rocket by Rocket Lab, it is built entirely out of carbon composites, but a lot bigger. What is more interesting is that the engines will run on a tap-off cycle. An engine type that has never gone orbital before.
|Rocket||Height [m]||Diameter [m]||Payload to SSO [kg]|
A comprehensive roundup of the history of Firefly by Cost-Plus Content: Firefly Aerospace: How the Alpha Rocket Will Change the Small-Sat Market
A maiden flight is always exciting. Especially after the recent failures to get to orbit by Astra. Their rocket suffered an engine failure at launch and the thrust to weight ratio dropped to almost 1. That made the rocket hilariously power slide off the pad until it started climbing after burning off enough fuel. Their control system at least got a thorough check-out and passed with flying colors.
Recap of the slapstick launch by Scott Manley:
An overview of other small sat launchers close to their first launch by Tim Dodd: Who will be the KING of the Small Sat Launchers?!