A new company enters the smallsat business

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The competition heats up: Firefly Space Systems, a new company aimed at the small satellite market, successfully test fired its first rocket engine today.

This company is aiming for the same market that Virgin Galactic is going for with its LauncherOne rocket. It will be interesting to see if either can make money selling launch services to these small satellites.



  • maurice

    I doubt whether there is enough pipeline of smallsats available to warrant a separate launch platform. Creating a better secondary payload system would be a much better solution. Looking at the various platforms i think the indian one would be cheaperst/lbs

  • Patrick Ritchie

    These folks are just down the street from me.

    Pretty impressive that they’ve gone from zero to first engine firing in ~15 months.

  • D.K. Williams

    We should start a new rocket company–Z-Space. Named, of course, for our desert leader. Financed by crowd-funding? We could paint our rockets black.

  • Edward


    There may be more of a pipeline than you think. OneWeb, for instance, wants to put 700 small satellites into orbit, and another constellation proposal — by Elon Musk — is to put up a constellation of 4,000 small satellites.

    It will be interesting to see if these constellations come to fruition, but there is also a growing market for cubesat launches. There is a growing market for small satellites, whether in constellations or on their own; they are less expensive, and the technology is maturing for smaller, lighter satellite components.

    Overall, there are more potential small satellites than can be reasonably launched as secondary payloads, and many of them will want to be in specific orbits, not the arbitrary orbits that many secondary payloads have to be satisfied with.

    You could be right, Maurice, that there may already be too many proposed small-sat launchers for all of them to survive, but that just means that the more innovative and resourceful companies are the ones more likely to survive. Competition is a good thing — for the customers, not for the losing competitors.

    Another way to look at it is that these companies may lose money on each launch, but they will make up for it in launch volume. ;-)

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