Firefly Aerospace Launches Alpha Rocket, Blue Origin and Stoke Space Added to US Space Force List

Firefly Aerospace Launches Alpha Rocket, Blue Origin and Stoke Space Added to US Space Force List

Takashi Nakamura
2 min read

Historic Success for Firefly Aerospace's Alpha Rocket Launch

Firefly Aerospace achieved a significant milestone by successfully launching its fifth Alpha rocket and deploying eight NASA-funded CubeSats into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This feat comes after a previous launch failure due to an upper stage malfunction. The Alpha rocket, with the capability to transport about a metric ton to low-Earth orbit, overcame previous software challenges that have since been addressed.

Key Takeaways

  • Firefly Aerospace's fifth Alpha rocket launch successfully deploys eight NASA-funded CubeSats into orbit.
  • The Polaris Dawn spacewalk mission, an all-private endeavor, is slated for launch no earlier than July 31.
  • Blue Origin and Stoke Space Technologies join the US Space Force's eligible small payload launch providers' list.
  • Italian startup Sidereus Space Dynamics completes a static fire test of its EOS rocket, aiming for single-stage-to-orbit capability.
  • Globally, there were 122 rocket launches into Earth orbit or beyond in the first half of 2024, representing an increase from 91 in the corresponding period last year.


The triumph of Firefly's Alpha rocket launch, following a prior setback, instills confidence in investors and reinforces NASA's dependence on commercial providers. This success indirectly exerts pressure on competitors like Blue Origin and Stoke Space Technologies to excel in upcoming launches, influencing their market positioning and contract bids under the Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4). Additionally, Sidereus's EOS rocket test enhances the diversity of the European launch market, challenging established players with its cost-effective, reusable technology. These advancements augment competition, foster innovation, and potentially reduce launch expenses, with long-term implications for global space exploration and satellite deployment strategies.

Did You Know?

  • Firefly Aerospace's Alpha Rocket:
    • Alpha Rocket: A medium-lift launch vehicle developed by Firefly Aerospace, capable of delivering approximately a metric ton to low-Earth orbit. It has encountered previous challenges such as a launch failure due to an upper stage malfunction and software issues, which have since been rectified.
  • CubeSats:
    • CubeSats: A standardized type of small satellite, typically measuring 10x10x10 cm (1 liter) and weighing less than 1.33 kg. They are often utilized for educational and scientific research purposes due to their low cost and ease of deployment. NASA provides funding for various CubeSat projects for research and technology demonstration in space.
  • Static Fire Test:
    • Static Fire Test: A crucial assessment conducted on a rocket or spacecraft, wherein the engines are ignited while the vehicle remains stationary on the ground. This test ensures the functionality and performance of the engines before actual flight, verifying safety and reliability.

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