Space company Firefly is gearing up for a second attempt at an orbital launch of its Alpha rocket as the venture hopes to lay the foundation for its business.
“Firefly aims to be the next SpaceX, a highly transformative space transportation company,” Firefly CEO Tom Markusic told CNBC.
The company recently showed CNBC its production and test facilities near Austin, Texas, and during the first Alpha rocket launch in September.
“The rocket gives you the keys to space. It is critical, but it brings a lot of income from working in space, ”Markusic said.
Markusic, whose experience includes senior positions at Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX, compared the Blue Ghost lunar lander that Firefly is building to SpaceX’s Dragon series of capsules that carry cargo and people into low Earth orbit. While the Firefly Alpha rocket costs $ 15 million to launch, Markusic says the lunar lander is far more lucrative for each mission.
“Blue Ghost, fully loaded with payload, could generate about $ 150 million in revenue for the company,” Markusic said.
Firefly Aerospace CEO Tom Markusic stands in front of the Alpha rocket at Vandenberg Space Base SLC-2.
Andrew Evers | CNBC
While the Alpha’s first launch in September allowed the company to achieve several important results, an electrical problem shut off one of the rocket’s four engines and resulted in a deliberately explosive end of the flight about two minutes after the start of the flight.
Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket exploded into a fireball over California after being launched from Vandenberg Space Base on September 2, 2021.
Andrew Evers | CNBC
Undaunted, Firefly expects to make a second attempt in early 2022, entering orbit and starting regular flights, which is key to achieving the company’s goals, Firefly Chief Operating Officer Lauren Lyons explained.
“We want to launch 24 rockets in 2024,” Lyons said. “One of the things that will help us achieve this rhythm is to fly the next flight as soon as possible, and the next one as soon as possible, and begin to overcome this learning curve as quickly as possible so that we can move on to repeatable builds.”
Firefly currently spends about $ 10 million a month and wants its earnings to solidify “before we go public,” Markusic said. The company has raised over $ 200 million in venture capital to date.
“I don’t want to use listing as another way to finance development,” Markusic told CNBC. “I think this time next year we could talk about a Firefly IPO.”