Firefly’s Alpha rocket launches eight smallsats into orbit

Firefly tonight successfully launched eight smallsats for NASA and others, its Alpha rocket lifting off from Vandenberg in California.

The payloads on this launch were not all built by NASA, but I think NASA paid the launch costs as part of a program to help startups. One payload, Catsat, is a test of a spherical inflatable antenna created by the startup Freefall. If successful, it will be make it possible for cubesats to transmit much more data than they can now. As of posting seven of the eight satellites had been deployed. Catsat’s deployment however had not been confirmed.

As this was Firefly’s first launch in 2024, the leader board of the launch race does not change:

70 SpaceX
29 China
8 Russia
8 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise however now leads the world combined in successful launches, 82 to 44, while SpaceX by itself still leads the entire world, including other American companies, 70 to 56.