Firefly Aerospace rocket successfully launches a spacecraft commissioned by the US Space Force

On September 13, 2023, the aerospace company Firefly Aerospace, founded by Ukrainian entrepreneur Max Polyakov in 2017, successfully launched its Alpha rocket as part of the Victus Nox mission commissioned by the US Space Force (USSF). This is stated on the company’s official website.

Firefly Aerospace
Image: Firefly Aerospace
  • This is the third successful launch of the Alpha rocket. It has now completed the Victus Nox mission and launched a satellite into orbit.
  • The company managed to complete all preparatory stages for the mission after receiving a notification about the need to launch the mission in just 24 hours, in particular: updating the software that calculates the trajectory, packing the cargo, and transporting it to the launch site, as well as refuelling the rocket. The launch itself took place 27 hours after receiving the order about it, in the first available launch window.
  • The flight proceeded normally at all stages, including MECO (first stage engine shutdown), first stage separation, and others. The rocket successfully put the Millennium Space Systems satellite into orbit. This was the main purpose of the mission: to test the USSF’s ability to quickly launch a satellite into orbit in the event of a threat to national security.

About Firefly Aerospace

  • Firefly Aerospace was founded in 2017 by Ukrainian entrepreneur Maks Polyakov. In 2021, as a result of the US Committee on Foreign Investment’s concern about what could happen to valuable technologies in Ukraine due to risks related to Russia, Firefly Aerospace changed its ownership structure.
  • Firefly first launched Alpha in September 2021. Due to the premature shutdown of one of the engines of the first stage, the flight was interrupted. Thirteen months later, during the second launch, the rocket reached orbit, the payloads on board were put into a lower orbit.
  • In June 2023, the plans for the fourth start also became known. The Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 (VCLS Demo 2) mission will launch multiple CubeSats into a 550-kilometer Synchronous Sun Orbit (SSO).