Rocket-building company Firefly Aerospace reached orbit for the first time over the weekend, reaching an important milestone that will kick-start the launch of its business and provides opportunities to fund growth The chief executive of the company announced on Monday.
Firefly located near Austin, Texas, launched its two-stage Alpha rocket early in the morning the early hours of Saturday from the US Space Force base in Southern California, sending its first payloads to orbit after the initial launch attempt nearly one year ago was unsuccessful mid-flight.
“Saturday morning changed everything for this company,” Firefly Chief Executive Bill Weber told Reuters. “This was a test flight, and we tried to keep our enthusiasm tempered.”
Firefly’s Alpha joins the increasingly highly competitive launch market. It was five rocket of a private US rocket to enter orbit since 2008, after that of the Falcon 9 from Elon Musk’s privately-owned SpaceX and rockets made by the public sector corporations Rocket Lab USA Inc, Virgin Orbit Holdings Inc and Astra Space Inc.
Firefly’s mission’s success follows several years of struggle and a bankruptcies rescue by Ukrainian-born entrepreneur MaxPolakov’s Noosphere Ventures. US security concerns prompted Noosphere to transfer its largest part to private equity firm AE Industrial Partners earlier this year, putting an end to a lengthy problem that was threatening to cripple the Firefly’s initial business.
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AEI managed the Series B financing round that netted the sum of $75 million to Firefly on March.
Alpha, the company’s launch vehicle that sells Alpha for around $15 million per launch and has plans for six missions for 2023 and 12 planned for 2024.
Weber believes that the mission on Saturday could allow Firefly in raising more money to complete construction of its manufacturing facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the site of Alpha’s second launchpad. It may also speed up development of MLV which is a larger rocket that the company is planning to construct with Northrop Grumman.
Weber suggested that the company might look into another fundraising round however, he ruled out the possibility that it would go public. Weber said Firefly is focusing on private research and development for Alpha’s manufacturing line as well as the MLV rocket, as well as its latest, more powerful engine.
If Firefly decides to go through with another private fundraising, Weber said, it will aim to make the company’s cash flow positive and would be “the last raise that this company needs to do.”