Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a space launch vehicle producer based in Cedar Park, Texas, has partnered with Airbus Defence and Space to develop new space launch solutions for Airbus’ satellites. Through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), Firefly will focus on just-in-time deployment services for the European aerospace manufacturer’s small satellite (SmallSat) customers.
“We are very impressed by the versatility and low cost of the Airbus ARROW platform and Airbus's investment in leading edge satellite mass production capabilities. We look forward to working closely with Airbus to bring economical launch solutions to their customers,” says Firefly’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Tom Markusic. “This initial MOU covering several launches is the first step of a long-term relationship which will provide Airbus customers the highest level of flexibility for their small satellite launches.”
Airbus, recently completed production of 900 sub-150-kilogram SmallSats for the OneWeb global internet constellation project. The unprecedented production quota required Airbus to establish a SmallSat assembly line and procurement chain completely different from that of traditional geostationary satellite assembly labs. The production – which ramped up to several SmallSats per day – has inspired the development innovative designs and processes to dramatically lower the cost in large volumes for high performance space applications.
“Our partnership with Firefly will provide launch options with direct access to specific orbits, flexibility, and short notice. The Alpha vehicle addresses an unmet need in small satellite launch and will provide a further option for our customers in addition to legacy medium and large launchers in Europe,” says Frederic Sotenberg, head of Constellations Launch Solutions at Airbus Space Systems.
Les Kovacs, Firefly vice president of Business Development, adds that, "This flexibility will enable rapid deployment of and replenishment of Airbus customer constellations. We look forward to working closely with Airbus to develop integrated solutions that accelerate the global small satellite revolution and the commercialization of cislunar space."
Firefly has also invested heavily in its infrastructure with the opening of a manufacturing facility at Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Firefly will provide launch and in-space services at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 20 with its Alpha launch vehicle, a two-stage, kerosene and liquid oxygen-fueled expendable rocket.
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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.
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