Past Mission


Firefly’s 1st Test Flight

Mission Details

Mission Name:


Mission Type:

Test Flight


Demonstration Payloads


Alpha FLTA001 Rocket

Launch Date:

September 2, 2021

Launch Site:

Firefly SLC-2, Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA

Mission Summary

Our first test flight (FLTA001) on September 2, 2021, marked a major advancement for the Firefly team. Although Alpha did not make it to orbit, Firefly demonstrated its ability to launch rockets and fly more than two minutes to supersonic speed before having to end the mission. Following our investigation, we discovered one of the engines cut out due an electrical short to one of the values. We were able to fix this minor issue and gain a wealth of flight data that ultimately led to our successful orbital flight (FLTA002) on only our second launch attempt.


As Firefly’s first test flight, the Dedicated Research & Education Accelerator Mission (DREAM) allowed educational institutions, startup space entrepreneurs, and other nonprofit organizations to send payloads to space in an effort to inspire younger generations to dream big and pursue STEM education.


Libre Space Foundation

Libre Space Foundation is a Greek non-profit organisation based in Athens, Greece focused on developing open source technologies for space, including the relatively new field of PocketQubes. PocketQubes, compared to CubeSats, are even smaller satellites where 1P satellites have a form factor of 5 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm and a maximum weight of 250 g. PicoBus is Libre Space’s open source PocketQube dispenser that can deploy up to eight PocketQubes.


FOSSA Systems

FOSSA Systems is a company based in Spain creating so called PocketQubes (1P PocketQube is defined as 5 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm) for Internet of Things (IoT) and Earth observation (EO) use. On this mission, FOSSA Systems flew its 1P FossaSat-1b and 2P FossaSat-2 together with Libre Space Foundation.



AMSAT-EA is a Spanish non-profit radio-amateur organisation founded in 2017 with the goal of enabling radio-amateurs to exchange digital messages over vast distances. AMSAT-EA has built two 1.5P (7.5 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm) PockeQubes called GENESIS-L (light) and GENESIS-N (normal). Students from the European University of Madrid and from the Higher Technical School of Engineering (ICAI) in Madrid have helped with mechanical, attitude and thermal design, and with parts of the communications system respectively.


Hawaii Science and Technology Museum

The Hawaii Science and Technology Museum (HSTM) is an educational non-profit founded in 2015 dedicated to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) education on the Island of Hawaii. HSTM visits various schools on Hawaii to bring exhibits directly to the students to inspire and spark their interest in STEM.

Hiapo is a 1U (10 cm x 10 cm x 10cm) CubeSat equipped with a magnetometer to study Earth’s magnetic field in the thermosphere. It will also allow amateur radio enthusiasts to track it around the world.


Teachers in Space

In 2009, Teachers in Space was founded by the Space Frontier. The commercialization of space was beginning to gain more speed, so the Foundation wanted to find a way to put teachers on suborbital flights. By doing this, they would be able to return to their kids and give them first hand accounts of what an experience like this was like.

For this mission in particular, the Teachers in Space program will be sending a cubesat called Serenity on Firefly’s inaugural flight of their Alpha rocket. Serenity aims to provide educational resources to teachers and students around the world. After being placed in a low Earth orbit, Serenity will be activated and will start communications. It hosts a suite of data sensors and an Earth oriented camera. Anyone with a satellite receiver will be able to connect to Serenity.


Purdue University

Spinnaker-3 is a collaboration between Purdue University, the Cal Poly CubeSat Lab and NASA.

It’s a prototype for a product line currently being developed by the startup company Vestigo Aerospace LLC. Those dragsails will enable bigger payloads or spent rocket stages to rapidly de-orbit, decreasing the risk of on-orbit collisions. The company also offers smaller dragsails for CubeSats.


Benchmark Space Systems

Benchmark Space Systems’ BSS-1 is a 3U tech-demonstrator CubeSat based on NearSpace Launch, Inc.’s 3U-FastBus satellite bus.

Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) Hardware


A test article for Firefly’s Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) also flew on this mission. The ST-25 Hall-Effect Thruster from Space Electric Thrusters Systems is an ion thruster. The ST-25 differs from other thrusters of that type as it utilizes a permanent magnet instead of more commonly used electromagnet. This results in a lower power consumption, which increases overall efficiency.

firefly flight 1

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