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Firefly Aerospace updates

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DocM    14,009

Nothing on their web domain yet, other than an internal login, but this image has popped up.

A pressure fed LOX/methane toroidal aerospike engine with a composite core. Perhaps a Falcon 1 style training rocket for something much larger?

Aerospikes differ because the engine has no bell shaped expansion nozzle - they automatically compensate for altitude.

The use of the term "plug cluster aerospike" makes me think this engine may have a cluster of smaller aerospikes instead of a single large one. Example below.

One interesting thing is that their address is very close to SpaceX in Hawthorne.

Vehicle800.jpg

Toroidal aerospike

Non-truncated_toroidal_aerospike_nozzle.

Annular-Aerospike.jpg

Prospector-10 cluster aerospike

http://www.csulb.edu/colleges/coe/mae/views/projects/rocket/news_2008/aerospike06252008.shtml

6-aerospike_engine_after_test.jpg

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HawkMan    5,230

I always liked the aerospike engines. 

 

to bad the big spaceship with the huge flat aerospike never happened. it promised to be a true single stage reusable spaceship. 

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DocM    14,009

X-33 was the testbed, VentureStar th opetstional single stage to orbit (SSTO) spaceplane.

The sad thing was that the project was cancelled because its composite cryogenic propellant tanks tended to crack, then after the cancellation the problem was solved two different ways.

IF the money were available something like VentureStar may work today. The closest thing is the UK's Skylon project with its revolutionary SABRE engine.

X-33, VentureStar and Shuttle

X33Comparison_2k.jpg

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DocM    14,009

Yup, and they're talking about becoming tenants at Brownsville/Boca Chica.

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DocM    14,009

The aerospike lives!

@jeff_foust (Space News)

Paul Damphousse, representing Firefly Space: company now at 50+ employees, finalizing orders first two years

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Draggendrop    5,175

First Rocket Engine Test a Success for Firefly Space Systems

 

265444.thumb.jpg.b1c76282c752b81443e6d50
Firefly Space Systems
 

CEDAR PARK, TexasSept. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Firefly Space Systems, theTexas-based developer of dedicated launch vehicles for the small satellite market, announced today that it has successfully tested its first rocket engine, Firefly Rocket Engine Research 1 ("FRE-R1"). 

"The successful testing of our first engine represents a quantum step in the technical maturation of our company.  We have demonstrated that our core engine design can reliably start, stop and operate at a steady state without combustion instabilities," said Firefly Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Thomas Markusic

 

Firefly is developing one combustor design that will be utilized to power both stages of their small-sat launcher – "Firefly Alpha."  The Alpha upper stage will utilize an engine (FRE-1) with a single combustor, whereas the first stage engine (FRE-2) will use an array of twelve of the same combustors arranged in an annular aerospike configuration.

FRE-R1 is a propulsion pathfinder for both stages of Alpha.  It operates using LOx/RP-1propellants, but the basic combustor design can utilize either methane or RP-1 fuels.  The upper stage variant of the engine (FRE-1) will produce 7,000 lbf thrust, and the first stage cluster used in FRE-2 will produce 125,000 lbf thrust. 

The first test series successfully demonstrated startup, shutdown, and steady state combustion.  The test also served to prove the complete functionality of Firefly's new test site.  Upcoming engine tests will emphasize performance tuning and longer duration "mission duty cycle" runs.  The first hot-fire tests of the FRE-2 aerospike engine are expected to take place in early 2016.

"In only fifteen months, we have built our Texas team, constructed state-of-the-art engineering and test facilities, designed a complete rocket (Alpha) to PDR level, and built and tested key vehicle technologies, such as the FRE-R1 engine," added Markusic.   

"I'm incredibly proud of the innovative and hard-driving spirit of the Firefly team.  They are smart, hard-working and building momentum in hardware development, which will carry Firefly to space in short order."

 

 http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/prnewswire-space-news.html?rkey=20150910PH98843&filter=1639

Excellent news.......

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Unobscured Vision    2,376

OOoohhhhh! :D We likey!

Bring on the Aerospike design!

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Draggendrop    5,175

Entrepreneurial ventures, in the same fields, and en masse, and in growing  numbers...are a force to recon with.....Large corporations, by their very structure and shareholder control, will have a hard time adapting this quickly, to the developments and new spinoffs. I would think that most of these small startups will be hard to buy out, just because they have the drive to succeed and want to see their product through fruition.

What has Boeing, ULA, Orbital, Aerojet...etc done in the last decade that has been revolutionary, or to even help access to space.....what will each "newspace" entity do in 10 years,15 years....they will literally open space to everyone, for all manner of even newer "newspace" ventures...there is no pulling back now. :D

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DocM    14,009

One of Firefly's founders is Tom Markusic, formerly lead engineer at SpaceX's McGregor Texas test facility. His team is on the SpaceX model.

Firefly Alpha and Beta are just the beginning; Gamma will be a much larger launcher with winged (!) flyback stages and a huge annular aerospike. 

Gamma far right at a conference

ZOmrloA.jpg

Beta tri-core

fireflybeta-01.png

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Draggendrop    5,175

Firefly Names Rocket Launch and Test Director

Press Release From: Firefly Space Systems 
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015

 

Firefly Space Systems, Inc., a New Space developer of dedicated launch vehicles for the small satellite market, announced today that aerospace veteran Anne Chinnery has joined its growing team as the company’s first Launch and Test Director. She will report to and work directly with Firefly Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Thomas Markusic.

Ms. Chinnery brings almost three decades of active experience working at leading aerospace industry organizations both in the public and private sectors. She served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, where she managed test and launch activities at Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB) and most recently served in

similar senior roles at leading New Space companies. Ms. Chinnery holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the Air Force Academy and Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, with specialties in rocket propulsion and attitude dynamics.

“I’ve had the good fortune to work with Anne in the past. Our team is incredibly encouraged to have her join our efforts and lead the development of Firefly’s launch and test capability,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Thomas Markusic. “Anne will immediately put her skills to work in an impactful way by leading activation of the new site and testing our first rocket engines. She will also work to finalize our launch site selection and build a world class rocket launch team.”

The timing of Ms. Chinnery’ s hiring coincides with the company’s completion earlier this month of its new, state-of-the-art rocket test site facility located innearby Briggs, TX. The site was constructed by Test Site Manager Joel Waldrum’s team in just eight months.

The Briggs site is one of several candidates to house Firefly’s primary manufacturing facility, where the Company plans to build up to 50 “Alpha” vehicles per year and create up to 200 additional jobs with an annual payroll of approximately $15 million by 2019. The last months have been a period of strong growth on the personnel front, which has seen the Firefly team expand to over 60 members.

“I’m obviously thrilled to join the team here at Firefly,” said Ms. Chinnery. “The future is in space. Young, innovative and revolutionary companies like ours are going to be the ones to get us there. I’m looking forward to being a part of shaping our next steps into space,” she added.

“Bottom line is that Anne is a proven leader in test and launch environments and embodies the smart, no-nonsense, “let’s just get it done” attitude that is highly valued at Firefly,” Markusic added.

ABOUT FIREFLY SPACE SYSTEMS

Firefly is a small satellite launch company located in Cedar Park, TX which was created to provide low-cost, high-performance space launch capability for the under-served small satellite market, where secondary-payload launches are often the only option. The Firefly team includeshighly experienced aerospace engineers that have spent the better part of the past decade working at NASA and various New Space companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.

Simplified and optimized for least cost, and utilizing innovations such as a rethought engine design, Firefly has positioned itself to be the technological and cost effective solution leader for traditional manufacturers of small satellites for government agencies, earth observation, and constellation customers.

Contact Phone Email
Maureen Gannon 415.690.7787 
maureen@fireflyspace.com

 

// end //

http://spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=46877

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DocM    14,009

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/tech/science/space/2015/10/14/ksc-awards-help-develop-small-satellite-launchers/73916514/

One of three companies to win contracts to launch small satellites from NASA plans to perform test flights from Kennedy Space Center next year.

Texas-based Firefly Space Systems' 77-foot-tall Alpha rocket could be the first to use KSC's new pad 39C for the suborbital test flights.

"At that time we’ll be proud to call ourselves Floridians, and signal to the world that the most exciting and innovative technologies in space access are still happening right here on the Space Coast," said Maureen Gannon, Firefly's vice president for business development.

By March 2018, the company plans to launch very small spacecraft known as CubeSats to orbit for NASA, from a launch site to be determined depending on the spacecraft selected for the $5.5 million mission.

The demonstration mission is one of several that KSC's Launch Services Program has bought to help enable a new class of small rockets designed to launch small satellites as soon as next year.

NASA also has bought a launch on Rocket Lab USA's Electron rocket for $7 million, and on Virgin Galactic's air-launched LauncherOne rocket for $4.7 million. Those companies could also potentially launch from the Space Coast.

The three companies were selected under NASA's new Venture Class Launch Services initiative to launch bunches of 15 to 30 CubeSats, which can measure as little as 4 inches on a side, on demonstration missions by early 2018.

To date, those small spacecraft have been force to fly in "coach class," NASA said, by hitching rides as secondary payloads on big rockets that might cost $100 million or more.

The new rockets, none of which have flown yet, seek to offer low-cost alternatives that can deliver the spacecraft to orbits they want on schedules they want.

"We can basically say now we are riding first-class," said Garrett Skrobot, the Launch Services Program's mission lead for the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites, or ELaNa, program.

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Draggendrop    5,175

Firefly Aims To Build the ‘Model T of Rockets’


Spotlight | Firefly Space Systems

firefly-rocket-engine-test-879x485.thumb
In September, Firefly announced the first successful ground test of its rocket engine at its testing facility in Briggs, Texas. Credit: Firefly Space Systems

SAN FRANCISCO — At least 25 companies have announced plans to build rockets to meet the growing demand for small-satellite launches, but Firefly Space Systems does not plan to blend into that pack.

“The driving theme of our company is to distinguish ourselves as soon as possible from the crowd that talks about doing this and to join an elite group of people that can actually field technology to get things to space,” said Thomas Markusic, Firefly chief executive.

Markusic, a propulsion engineer who worked at NASA, the U.S. Air Force, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin before founding Firefly, plans to build a family of simple expendable rockets offering dedicated rides for satellites weighing less than 1,000 kilograms.

“Think of this as the Model T of rockets, a simple widely used vehicle for getting from point to point, or in this case getting to space,” he said.

Firefly’s initial launch vehicle, Firefly Alpha, an all-composite rocket with a pressure-fed aerospike engine, is designed to send 400 kilogram payloads into low Earth orbit or 200 kilograms into sun-synchronous orbit for $8 million. Firefly plans to use cellphone technology to send telemetry data from the ascending rocket. “We are using commercial electronics technology in our avionics to a larger extent than anyone has ever done before,” Markusic said.

Markusic left his job as Virgin Galactic’s vice president for propulsion in December 2013 to found Firefly because he saw a dearth of launch options for the burgeoning small-satellite market. “There is great competition and cost reduction in the medium- to heavy-lift area, but there’s very little that’s available in the small class,” he said. “Firefly and other companies popping up are aiming to fill that gap.”

In October, NASA announced the award of fixed-price contracts to Firefly, Los Angeles-based Rocket Lab and Virgin Galactic of Long Beach, California, to provide dedicated rides into orbit for the cubesats NASA transports under its Cubesat Launch Initiative. NASA plans to pay Firefly $5.5 million, Virgin Galactic $4.7 million and Rocket Lab $6.95 million for launches scheduled to occur by April 2018.

To date, cubesats have flown primarily as secondary payloads on larger rockets, which meant their builders had little control over the launch timing or orbital destination. While those piggyback rides were welcomed by cubesat pioneers eager to test components or conduct scientific research, some of the entrepreneurs building miniature satellites to gather data or relay communications are eager for rides to specific altitudes and inclinations.

 

 Thomas_Markusic_FFS-253x253.thumb.jpg.b8
Thomas Markusic, Firefly chief executive. Credit: Firefly Space Systems

Firefly Space Systems at a Glance

Established: January 2014

Top Official: Thomas Markusic, chief executive

Employees: 61

Location: Cedar Park, Texas

 

 Firefly_team_FFS-879x485.thumb.jpg.03ffe
Firefly Space Systems, which currently has 61 employees, plans to have a staff of about 150 when it begins sending satellites into orbit in 2018. Credit: Firefly Space Systems

“When you are riding as a secondary payload on a large launch vehicle, you sometimes have to wait a couple of years and you are subject to the technical specifications of that launch,” said Amir Blachman, Space Angels Network managing director in Los Angeles. “Whereas if you can pay to get a custom launch for a smaller payload, you can tailor the timing and all the other elements of the mission to your specific needs.”

Firefly executives say they will attract customers with low launch prices and strong customer service. The company plans to enable a customers to track the progress of their launch vehicle through its production cycle and, if possible, to watch the launch in virtual reality.

“The customer side of the launch vehicle market has been ignored for years,” said Maureen Gannon, Firefly business development vice president. “We want to be a leader in customer experience.”

 

 Maureen_Gannon_FFS-253x253.thumb.jpg.b77
Maureen Gannon, Firefly business development vice president. Credit: Firefly Space Systems

After establishing its business with Firefly Alpha, the company plans to offer multiple space transportation vehicles. “Firefly Alpha is the first step toward a next generation of larger vehicles with increased payload capability and reusability,” Gannon said.

One of the benefits of starting the company by building a small rocket is the capital investment. “From a capital standpoint, this type of program is available to more people than the mega programs like SpaceX is doing,” Blachman said.

“The cost does not scale linearly with vehicle size,” Markusic said, adding that a vehicle twice as large might cost eight times as much to develop because it would require custom machine tools.

Firefly plans to raise roughly $100 million to build and launch Firefly Alpha. Through a seed round, the company raised between $10 million and $20 million. The company plans to raise the balance through Series A and B funding rounds.

Firefly has 61 employees and plans to have a staff of about 150 when it begins sending satellites into orbit in 2018. Firefly received a $1.2 million economic incentive package from Cedar Park, Texas, where the company built a 1,850-square-meter research and development facility as well as a 80-hectare test site.

In Firefly’s first year and a half, its engineers have tackled some of the company’s greatest technical risks. In September, Firefly announced its first successful ground test of its rocket engine.

By 2017, Firefly plans to begin conducting suborbital launches. “We will learn a lot about the vehicle so when we have someone’s precious payload on the top, it will not be the first time this thing has ever performed,” Markusic said.
Firefly plans to conduct is first orbital flight in March 2018, an ambitious goal for a company established in 2014.

“When I started the company, I committed myself to the idea that we would be very successful very quickly or we would fail very quickly,” Markusic said. “The goal is not to build a company that can sustain itself for 10 years and never get to space. The goal of the company is to get to space in three or four years or not exist.”

http://spacenews.com/building-the-model-t-of-rockets/ 

:)

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Draggendrop    5,175

 

:)

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Beittil    456
Quote

Full Mission Duty Cycle Test a Success for Firefly Space Systems

CEDAR PARK, Texas, September 26, 2016

Firefly Space Systems, the Texas-based developer of dedicated launch vehicles for the small satellite market, announced today that it has successfully completed over 50 hot fire tests of its combustor, including multiple full mission duty cycle (“MDC”) tests.

“These tests of our combustor retire critical engine design risk elements and place Firefly among an elite group of newspace companies that have successfully performed an MDC hot fire on a flight weight combustor. We have shown that our regeneratively cooled engine is capable of withstanding the stresses associated with long duration hot fires,” said Firefly Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Thomas Markusic.

 

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DocM    14,009

Tests aside, Firefly in in deep doo-doo with Virgin Galactic.

 

When founder Tom Makusic was propulsion lead at VG and working to start Firefly, he apparently recruited on the job and took VG intellectual property with him. Now there is a lawsuit and it isn't going Firefly's way. 

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Beittil    456

Yeah that dude is in for some legal trouble, I just hope it wont end up bringing down Firefly with him.

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DocM    14,009

Sounds like with the Virgin Galactic lawsuit arbitration going south their funding sources are drying up.

 

 

 

 

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Draggendrop    5,175

One can hope of an outside buyout to keep it alive......This launcher needs to fly.....:(

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Beittil    456

Does this spell T R O U B L E or what...

 

 

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Draggendrop    5,175

It's a shame. Here we have a  " good dedicated staff" about to be displaced, unless, a last minute "magic act" happens.

 

These people need to be doing what they do best, and right now...it is there.     :(

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Beittil    456

Yeah, they are definitely in the process of going belly up... such a shame :(

 

http://spacenews.com/firefly-space-systems-furloughs-staff-after-investor-backs-out/

 

Quote

WASHINGTON — Firefly Space Systems, a Texas company developing a small launch vehicle, has furloughed its entire staff after an investor backed out, forcing the firm to consider alternative vehicle concepts or even a sale of the company.

In a brief statement posted to its Twitter account Sept. 29, Firefly Space Systems said a recent “setback in funding” forced the company to “take necessary action to maintain cash-flow equilibrium and position our company for future success.” Firefly did not elaborate on its situation other than tweeting a photo of company employees Sept. 30 with the caption, “Owners and management are so honored to have such a dedicated and committed team.”

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,376

####. :no: So much promise. Darn it.

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T3X4S    4,530

This is about 45 minutes from me.


Do I get any street cred for that ?

Cause.... I need some street cred.

 

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+Gary7    7,373

If the US would stop funding all of these wars maybe NASA would still be around.

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