Small launch vehicle manufacturer Firefly Aerospace aims to raise $350 million to ramp up development and progress on a second, larger vehicle, facing the first orbital launch try. Tom Markusic, who serves as the chief executive officer of Firefly Aerospace, stated during an IPO Edge online session on investments in the space sector on January 26 that the funding the firm is hoping to raise would promote its long-term development as it puts its Alpha launch vehicle into service as well as creates a Beta medium-class launch vehicle.
“We aim to take Firefly from a $1 billion firm over the next 5 years when we go out as well as fly Alpha and SUV,” he stated, a nod to an upper stage entitled the Space Utility Vehicle which can act as a space tug, “to be on the scale of a $10 billion firm in around five years.” Markusic stated $125 million of the money would go into “improvements in development,” including such facilities and equipment needed to speed up the development of launch vehicles. That will require equipment that is used to manufacture large carbon-fibre composite frameworks in the aircraft sector that Firefly would like to add to its vehicles. “What it indicates is that it’s going to really help people appreciate the low-cost vision we have for the firm.”
The other $225 million will fund growth projects, notably a medium-sized vehicle capable of orbiting 10 tons, around 10 times Alpha’s capacity. By early 2024, the company aims to make the first delivery of the larger model. Firefly Aerospace evolved from Firefly Space Systems that, after a financing round fell apart, went into bankruptcy in 2016. Max Polyakov, an entrepreneur, as well as Noosphere Ventures, an investment fund, purchased Firefly out of the bankruptcy and financed its operations. “Funded by Noosphere Venture Partners and Max Polyakov, our production phase was $200 million. These were the people who had an appetite for this early, high-capex, high-risk period,” Markusic stated. “For doing that, we owe a great deal to Noosphere and Max.”
However, he suggested that the extra money would come from several other sources. “We’re kind of ambivalent about where growth investment comes from,” he stated. “Overall, as a flexible, fast-moving space production firm, we are just searching for the path that best offers those capital resources without hindering our capacity or completely changing our culture.” For the early-stage space venture, a $350 million investment would be significant but not uncommon. In November 2020, to finance its long-term ambitions, Relativity Space, which is designing a compact launch vehicle with payload efficiency in a similar class as Alpha, generated $500 million.