WASHINGTON — Firefly Aerospace signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin to launch a small satellite aboard Firefly’s Alpha vehicle.

The agreement, announced June 29, is to launch a Lockheed Martin technology demonstration mission. Firefly did not disclose the estimated timeline for this launch. 

“We are working with Firefly because of their innovative performance in offering access to space for small payloads on Firefly Alpha,” said Dan Tenney, vice president of strategy and business development at Lockheed Martin Space.

Lockheed Martin is developing a number of self-funded space experiments to demonstrate technologies for government customers. 

The company in 2021 signed an agreement to launch up to 58 payloads with ABL Space, a small-satellite launcher in which Lockheed Martin has made a strategic investment. ABL’s first launch attempt in January failed and the company has not yet announced when it will try to launch again. 

A Lockheed Martin spokesperson told SpaceNews the company continues to work with ABL. “We still have our agreement with ABL and are assisting with their return to flight. While ABL works toward their next flight, we have launch requirements to meet for our tech demos. We look forward to working with Firefly to meet those needs.”

Two upcoming Alpha launches

Firefly, founded in 2014, has launched its Alpha rocket twice from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. 

The Alpha launch vehicle was designed to lift more than 1,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit. 

Alpha’s first launch failed in September 2021. The second launch in October 2022 reached orbit although the payloads were inserted into a lower orbit than planned and reentered Earth’s atmosphere after several days. 

The company is under contract to launch a Space Force mission called “Victus Nox” sometime this summer, and a demonstration missions for NASA under the Venture Class Launch Services contract. 

“We have the infrastructure, technologies, systems, and a dedicated team in place to provide on-demand launch services for both government and commercial customers,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...