There is another space-proven private launch company in the club – Firefly Aerospace. The company’s small payload Alpha rocket successfully reached orbit early Saturday morning after blasting off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
This is a major achievement for Firefly, which has come a long way to get here: the company started as Firefly Space Systems, which went bankrupt and was later reborn as Firefly Aerospace after the acquisition of its assets by Max Polyakov’s Noosphere Enterprises in 2017.
Tom Markusic, who founded the company and led it as CEO, also left the post in June. Markusic transitioned to a role as technical advisor and full-time board member, but his departure was preceded by the very public departure of Max Polyakov, who in February shared a message pointing the finger at the Committee on the Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the Air Force and other US agencies for its forced exit. 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 launcher blew up mid-air before reaching orbit.
This launch, like today’s, featured a number of payloads for actual paying customers. The difference is that Firefly claimed “100% mission success” for today’s flight, including successfully deploying all three onboard payloads to their target orbits.
Firefly is now part of the slowly growing small club of private space companies that have achieved orbit, including SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and Astra.