Look inside Firefly House as rocket builder prepares for second launch

Space company Firefly prepares for its Alpha rocket’s second orbital launch attempt as the company plans to build the foundation of its business.

“Firefly aims to become the next SpaceX, a very transformative space transportation company,” said Tom Markusic, CEO of Firefly, to CNBC.

The company recently gave CNBC a look at its manufacturing and testing facilities near Austin, Texas as well as during its first alpha rocket launch in September.

“The rocket gives you the key to space. It’s critical, but the big sales do things in space, ”said Markusic.

Markusic – whose experience, among other things, in management positions Virgo galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX – compared the Firefly-built lunar lander called Blue Ghost to SpaceX’s series of Dragon capsules that put cargo and people into low-earth orbit. While Firefly’s Alpha missile costs $ 15 million per launch, Markusic says the lunar lander is far more lucrative per mission.

“Blue Ghost has approximately $ 150 million in revenue for the company on a full payload,” said Markusic.

Firefly Aerospace CEO Tom Markusic stands in front of the company’s Alpha rocket on SLC-2 at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Andrew Evers | CNBC

While the initial Alpha launch hit several milestones for the company in September, an electrical problem shut down one of the rocket’s four engines and resulted in an intentionally explosive end about two minutes after the flight.

Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha missile explodes in a ball of fire in the skies over California after being launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base on September 2, 2021.

Andrew Evers | CNBC

Undeterred, Firefly expects to make a second attempt in early 2022, with reaching orbit and beginning regular flights, which are critical to the company’s goals, stated Firefly COO Lauren Lyons.

“We want to launch 24 missiles in 2024,” said Lyons. “One of the things that will help us get that cadence is to fly our next flight as fast as possible and the next as fast as possible and overcome that learning curve as quickly as possible so we can get into repeatable builds . “

Firefly currently spends about $ 10 million a month, Markusic said, and he wants revenue to solidify “before we go public”. The company has raised more than $ 200 million in venture capital to date.

“I don’t want to use the IPO as just another avenue to finance development,” Markusic told CNBC. “I think there is a chance around this time next year we could talk about a public offer from Firefly.”