York smallsat
Credit: York Space Systems

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Small launch vehicle company Firefly Aerospace announced Oct. 10 it’s partnering with smallsat developer York Space Systems to offer customers a combined package of satellite and launch services.

The agreement between the two companies, in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), is intended provide a form of one-stop shopping for companies interested in small satellite systems, with York manufacturing the satellites and Firefly launching them.

“Firefly is pleased to enter into an MOU with York to formulate an integrated market offering that includes spacecraft, launch, and downlink provider, which will provide customers with a single point of entry to build space-based businesses,” said Tom Markusic, chief executive of Firefly, in a statement.

York is developing a line of smallsats called S-Class, a bus that weighs 65 kilograms that can support payloads weighing up to 85 kilograms with 100 watts of average power. The first S-Class satellite, a technology demonstration mission called Harbinger, is scheduled for launch in early 2019.

Four S-Class satellites can fit on a single Alpha rocket being developed by Firefly. That vehicle is scheduled to make its first launch in late 2019 from the former Delta 2 launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Firefly is not the first launch company that York has partnered with in one manner or another. In April, York announced an agreement with Rocket Lab to develop documentation and procedures for streamlining the manifesting of York’s satellites on Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle.

“Our commercial and government customers emphasize the need for integrated solutions that facilitate rapid deployment of spacecraft,” Dirk Wallinger, chief executive of York, said in a statement. “This partnership with Firefly will give our customers another fantastic launch service option for rapid access to space.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...