US space startup Firefly launches rocket, potential new launch partner for the world
US space startuphas successfully launched its two-stage Alpha Rocket into orbit, deploying two payloads. This is a landmark achievement for the company after a failed launch attempt last year.
First reported by Reuters, Firefly CEO Bill Weber, who joined the company earlier this month, said, "Saturday morning changed everything for this company. This was a test flight, and we tried to keep our enthusiasm tempered."
With a successful deployment, Firefly becomes the fifth private American rocket type to have successfully reached orbit since 2008, after SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit Holdings and Astra Space. The latter three are public companies.
Firefly's plans to launch six more missions in 2023 and twelve in 2024 has the potential to increase the scope of the rocket launch market. The company sells the Alpha for around $15 million per launch.
According to CEO Weber, this launch could provide a boost to the company's coffers, in terms of both revenue generation and funding. The company has been through the lows of near-bankruptcy and survival via Ukrainian-born entrepreneur Max Polyakov's Noosphere Ventures investment in 2017.
Noosphere had to sell its stake to private equity giant AE Industrial Partners earlier this year due to concerns over US national security.
AE Industrial led a $75 million Series B round in March this year, with the ownership transition also clearing up any regulatory hurdles that had plagued the company's ability to launch missions.
Weber claimed that the company was exploring the option of another fundraise, but said that it was not looking at an IPO any time soon.
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti