Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc. has signed an agreement to secure most of the payload mass on a Firefly Aerospace rocket that’s due to lift off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2021.
The agreement, announced today, establishes Spaceflight as the mission’s anchor customer and commits the company to managing the logistics for multiple payloads on the Firefly Alpha rocket. That should help Firefly maximize use of the rocket’s 630-kilogram (1,389-pound) capacity for a launch to sun-synchronous orbit.
Texas-based Firefly Aerospace is planning to launch the Alpha on its maiden flight from Vandenberg later this year. The company suffered a setback in its rocket development program in January when a fire broke out during a first-stage qualification test, reportedly due to a software glitch.
Spaceflight Inc. has handled logistics for the launch of 271 satellites on 29 rideshare missions, using rockets ranging from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to India’s PSLV to Rocket Lab’s Electron. In February, Spaceflight’s parent company, Spaceflight Industries, announced an agreement to sell the launch services business to Japan’s Mitsui & Co. Ltd., subject to regulatory clearance.