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Can this scrappy startup become one of the big names in private space exploration? Buckle up. 

Image courtesy of Firefly Aerospace

The story of Firefly Aerospace

There are more than 138 registered small-launch companies in the United States. Some with names you'd recognize instantly, others you've probably never heard of. But the stark reality is that, in the end, most experts believe the private space industry won't support more than a top handful of players.

Firefly Aerospace is on pace to be one of them.

Stage 1: Humble beginnings

These days, there are more rocket scientists in Briggs, TX than there are traffic lights. But between sweltering days and window-rattling booms late into the night, the team of more than 300, led by CEO Tom Markusic, is getting closer and closer to their first launch. The question is, when will Alpha fly?

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Stage 2: How to harness 1 million HP

Building spacecraft is one of the most challenging mechanical projects you can think of pursuing, but from day one, that hasn't deterred Firefly. Their engine designs output 1 million horsepower–that's like 1,000 high-performance sports cars running at the same time. Attach those engines to lightweight, strong carbon fiber stages, and Firefly can make a rocket in just nine days.

Stage 3: A race to the finish

With their inaugural launch set for later this year, the clock is ticking. Firefly has locked in 2021 small payload launch contracts and aims to combine the highest payload performance with the lowest cost per kilogram to orbit in its vehicle class. That means sending a metric ton to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 630 kilograms to 500 kilometers Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).

Explore the tools that help boost Firefly into orbit

Explore the tools that help boost Firefly into orbit

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A documentary in the making

Filmmaker Scott Edwards of Edwards Media has been following the visionary team at Firefly for the better part of four years. They've seen the successes. The setbacks. And the surprising comeback that has brought Firefly to the brink of becoming the next great private space company. Get a sneak peek behind the scenes now, and watch for an exciting documentary on Firefly's incredible journey, coming soon.

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