US' Firefly Aerospace rocket launches 8 small satellites for NASA

National |  IANS  | Published :

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) American private aerospace firm Firefly Aerospace has successfully launched its Alpha Flight 5 (FLTA005) rocket, which carried eight CubeSat for NASA.

The mission, part of NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative(CSLI), lifted off aboard the Alpha rocket, named "Noise of Summer" from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9.04 p.m. PDT (9.34?a.m. IST).

Following payload deployment, Firefly successfully performed a second stage relight and plane change manoeuvre to further test and validate Alpha's on-orbit capabilities, the company said. Firefly Aerospace is a NASA vendor for both launch and lunar services.

"The Firefly team knocked it out of the park," said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace, in a statement.

Besides "continuing this partnership," Weber aims to be part of NASA's "larger space exploration goals from Earth to the Moon and beyond."

The mission's CubeSats were selected through NASA's CSLI, which provides a low-cost way for universities, non-profits, science centres, and other researchers to conduct science and technology demonstrations in space.

The CubeSats were designed by universities and NASA centres and cover science that includes climate studies, satellite technology development, and educational outreach to students.

The launch "demonstrates the capability of small rockets," said Hamilton Fernandez, mission manager for NASA's Launch Services Programme.

Further, he added that via the CubeSat mission, NASA aims to "build relationships with this new part of the US launch vehicle industry."

Firefly is also in the final testing phase for its next Alpha launch, FLTA006.

The team is concurrently ramping up for a responsive on-orbit Elytra mission that will launch on Alpha FLTA007 later this year while also working to complete the final readiness milestones for its first Blue Ghost mission to the Moon launching in Q4 2024, the company said.

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