Firefly Aerospace names Alpha rocket launch site from U.S. East Coast

Firefly Aerospace has named the launch site for its Alpha small rocket from the U.S. East Coast. It became the spaceport on Wallops Island. Previously, it was planned that the rocket would be launched from Cape Canaveral.

Alpha rocket launch. Source: Firefly Aerospace

Firefly Aerospace has a long and complicated history. The company was founded back in 2014, but went bankrupt in 2017. It was rescued by Ukrainian entrepreneur and philanthropist Max Polyakov. Later on, the company managed to successfully launch the Alpha rocket and obtain a number of lucrative contracts.

Currently, Firefly’s primary launch facility is the launch pad located at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. At the same time, back in 2019, the company signed an agreement to conduct launches from Cape Canaveral. Thus, it would be able to serve more customers and launch cargo into lower inclination orbits. Firefly was also supposed to build an Alpha rocket factory in Florida.

Now those plans have undergone an adjustment. Instead of Cape Canaveral, Firefly will launch Alpha from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. It is located on Wallops Island off the coast of Virginia. Firefly will use Launch Pad 0A, which previously served Antares rockets.

Alpha rocket on the Wallops Island launch pad (concept). Source: Firefly Aerospace

According to Firefly representatives, Alpha launches will require minimal changes to the 0A pad. The first mission from the U.S. East Coast will take place as early as 2025. The site will still be used for launches of the upgraded version of the Antares 330, which Northrop Grumman is developing in partnership with Firefly, as well as for the larger MLV launch vehicle being built by the companies.

News of Firefly’s plans came shortly before a new Alpha rocket launch from the Vandenberg Space Center. As part of the Noise of Summer mission, it will have to place eight NASA-sponsored small satellites into low orbit. The launch is currently scheduled for June 27.

Earlier we told you that Firefly Aerospace could be sold for $1.5 billion.According to Spacenews