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Satnews Daily
October 14th, 2015

Contract Rec'd By Firefly From NASA To Demo A CubeSat Launch

[Satnews] Firefly Space Systems, Inc., has been selected by NASA to conduct a demonstration CubeSat launch by March 2018—the Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contract to Firefly is valued at $5.5M.

Mark Wiese, chief of the Flight Projects Office for NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy Space Center, described VCLS contracts as representing “NASA’s investment in the future of the commercial launch industry for SmallSats.”

Since there hasn’t been a dedicated launcher available, CubeSats have flown into orbit as auxiliary payloads that are released after the booster has achieved the primary mission. They have also been sprung into the orbital void from canisters aboard the International Space Station to conduct research missions. In both cases though, the CubeSats are at the mercy of the primary payload and the orbit it must fly in.

“The CubeSat and small satellite engineers and scientists are coming up with missions that justify flying unique orbits and at altitudes that are not available if we only fly as secondary payloads,” said Garrett Skrobot, lead for the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission for LSP. “These are still experimental satellites, but the technology they are employing is mature enough to use in these new ways.”

That’s where Firefly and its family of launch vehicles comes in. Since its inception, Firefly’s mission has been to dramatically reduce the cost of commercial launch services for small satellites and science missions across the entire sub-1 metric ton payload segment. The company is focusing on the development of low-cost, high-performance space launch capability for the under-served small satellite market. Firefly Alpha, the company’s first rocket, will be capable of lifting 400kg to a 400km equatorial orbit or 200kg to a 500km Sun-synchronous orbit

“Being recognized by NASA with a VCLS contract is a tremendous honor for the Firefly team. We have worked tirelessly during the last 18 months to develop Firefly Alpha, a vehicle that will be different from anything that has come before it. NASA’s vote of confidence in our technology and team is a significant boost to our efforts of ‘Making Space For Everyone’” said Dr. Thomas Markusic, Firefly’s CEO.

Added Maureen Gannon, Firefly’s Vice President of Business Development, “We are greatly encouraged knowing that NASA shares our industry’s vision for low-cost boosters to enable ever more exciting missions in exploration, science and education.”

Small Satellites - Big Opportunities

Around this theme is built the dynamic presence of the upcoming SmallSat Symposium that will be conducted on February 23 and 24, 2016, in Menlo Park, California. The wealth of topics to be presented will enrich all attendees with technical and subject-matter expertise… for example, on…

Day 1  — Tuesday, February 23, 2016

  • No Longer Small - Differentiating Miniature Satellites, Growth of the sector
  • Risks & Regulation In Small Sat Launches – What are the dynamics?
  • Financing New Small Sat Operations
  • Launch Provider Roundtable – Efficiency, Innovation & Trends
  • Cost Savings & Budgetary Considerations in Small Satellite Alternatives

To learn more about this significant conference and to learn about the moderators and speakers for the Day One sessions, please visit http://www.smallsatshow.com/?page_id=18