There is another space-proven private launch company in the club – Firefly Aerospace. The company’s tiny Alpha rocket successfully reached Earth orbit on Saturday morning after taking off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
This is a major achievement for Firefly, which has been able to achieve a lot here: the company originally started as Firefly Space Systems, which went bankrupt, then was reborn as Firefly Aerospace after its assets were acquired by Max Polyakov’s Noosphere businesses in 2017.
Tom Markusic, who founded the company and led it as CEO, also left the position in June. Markusic moved into a technical advisory and full-time board position, but his departure was preceded by the very public departure of Max Polyakov, who shared a post in February pointing the finger at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). , the Air Force and other US agencies for his forced departure. Polyakov is a British citizen, but was born in Ukraine.
Firefly launched its first Alpha rocket just over a year ago on September 2, 2021, but the launch vehicle exploded mid-flight before reaching orbit.
That launch, like today’s, had some payloads for actual paying customers. The difference is that Firefly claimed “100% mission success” for today’s flight, including the successful deployment of all three payloads on board to their target orbits.
Firefly now belongs to the small but slow-growing club of private space companies that have reached orbit, including SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and Astra.