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Firefly successfully completes first orbital launch of its Alpha rocket

Alpha 1:48 into flight

Capitalism in space: Firefly, a company that just two years ago had gone into bankruptcy, tonight successfully launched their new Alpha rocket into orbit on its second test launch. The screen capture to the right shows the rocket 1:48 minutes into flight, its first stage still firing.

A final 2nd stage engine burn has completed, and we now have confirmation of deployment of the payload satellites. My sources tell me that the second stage under-performed, putting the satellites into a 223x283km orbit, rather than the planned 300km orbit, which will shorten the lifespan of the smallsats. As this was a test launch, not an operational one, this issue does not to my mind make the launch a failure.They reached orbit and the satellites were successfully deployed.

Thus, Firefly now joins SpaceX, Rocket Lab, ULA, Virgin Orbit, and Northrop Grumman as an operational American commercial rocket companies. Astra had been operational, but it has stepped down as it builds a new rocket.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

43 SpaceX
41 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
6 ULA

American private enterprise now leads China 61 to 41 in the national rankings, and is tied with the entire world combined, 61 to 61.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

6 comments

  • Concerned

    I still don’t see what innovation an/or cost savings Firefly brings to the table that will allow it to win customers. Unless they’re embracing full reusability (that only makes fiscal sense with chemical propulsion if you scale up the size) or somehow can manufacture and operate these things significantly cheaper, I can’t see how they will compete.

  • Joe

    Firefly’s Alpha is built for rapid manufacture. Of course they need to get out of the R&D phase first. Once you have an assembly line, things get better from a financial perspective. The issue will be if they can lure enough business to them. I am hoping they can do that.

  • “Take me out
    To the Black
    Tell’em I ain’t comin’ back.”

  • Edward

    Concerned,
    Several factors are involved in addition to the price to the customer. The launch capacity can be important to customers that have heavier payloads. Rocket Lab’s electron can take 300 kg to low Earth orbit (LEO) but Alpha can take 1,170 kg.

    Availability is important. A launcher that can only fly every other year (e.g. SLS) may be less desirable than one that launches every week (as is the goal of several launch companies). Customers who have to wait a long time for a launch may turn to another launch provider.

    Fairing size can be just as important as the mass capacity. If the payload does not fit within the fairing, that is not the right rocket for the customer.

    Joe,
    I hope you can give us a white paper report on how your satellite performs.

  • GaryMike

    Blair,

    F yeah.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Jeff Bezos is doing the math on his orbital launch services….

    “Ten Percent Of Nothin’ Is… Let Me Do The Math Here… Nothin’, And Then Nothin’, Carry The Nothing…”

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