Firefly Aerospace, a leader in the field of cost-effective and reliable space launch vehicles and services, has attracted USD 75 million in investments as part of a new round of financing. This money will allow the company to accelerate preparations for the second launch of the Alpha rocket, scheduled for the second quarter of 2022.
New owner of Firefly
The announcement of the second round of financing for USD 75 million was provided by the American private investment company AE Industrial Partners (AEI). It specializes in aerospace, defense, energy and government services. In February, AEI bought shares in Firefly, previously owned by Noosphere Ventures. In a recent statement, AEI confirmed that it had closed this deal.
Kirk Konert, AEI partner, commented on the deal and the results of the new round of financing: “Firefly now has the resources to implement additional innovations in launch vehicles. Having gone through several important stages, the company has found itself at a crossroads and investments will allow Firefly to take advantage of the great opportunities.”
“The deal with AE Industrial puts Firefly on the open way to achieving long-term success” — said Max Poliakov, founder of Noosphere Ventures, who became a co-founder of Firefly Aerospace in 2017. “Firefly has a huge potential to capture a significant share of the space market. Noosphere’s financing of the company has served as an example of great success, by repeatedly returning our initial investment, and we are further delighted with the long-term success of this unicorn.”
In turn, Firefly CEO Tom Markusic noted that the transfer to the ownership of AE Industrial marks a new, exciting chapter for the company. The investments will allow us to develop the dynamics of last year’s financing and prepare the foundation for future development.
Upcoming Firefly Plans
Currently, Firefly’s main priority is the new Alpha launch. Both stages of the rocket have recently passed acceptance tests. The carrier will be ready for launch from the spaceport at Vandenberg Air Force Base in the next few months. Firefly has also completed the “Critical Design Review” (CDR) phase for its Blue Ghost lunar lander. Its launch is scheduled for September 2023. It should be able to land in the basin of Mare Crisium and deliver ten NASA payloads to the surface of the Moon, as well as several commercial cargo.
Recall that the first launch of the Alpha rocket took place in September 2021. Due to unauthorized closing of the main valves of the fuel supply system, one of the first stage engines shut down shortly after launch. This prevented Alpha from reaching orbit.
In his recent speech at the Satellite 2022 conference, Tom Markusic stated that according to the results of the first launch, Firefly engineers collected a lot of important information and eliminated a number of identified technical problems. In addition, he noted that in order to achieve full functionality, the first Alpha exemplar needed to pass 18 tests, but the second exemplar of the rocket passed all the tests on the first attempt.
Besides, Firefly engineers continue to design a more powerful Beta rocket. The company expects that it will be able to take the place in the commercial launch market that is vacant after the expulsion of the “Soyuz” rockets caused by the Russian aggression against Ukraine.