Firefly Aerospace has raised a total of $175 million, across a $75 million Series A round that valued the company north of $1 billion, and a $100 million secondary transaction which consisted of the sale of holdings held by primary Firefly investor Noosphere Ventures. The launch startup also announced that it intends to raise another $300 million later in 2021, after its forthcoming inaugural Alpha rocket launch, which is currently targeting a June take-off.
Firefly is one of a crop of new commercial launch providers aiming to follow in the footsteps of SpaceX and Rocket Lab, with a goal of serving the growing small satellite launch market. The company has been developing its Alpha rocket for the past few years, and has also been awarded commercial and civil government launch contracts from NASA, General Atomics and others. The Texas-based startup has had its share of setbacks, including the bankruptcy of its original iteration, Firefly Space Systems, which was subsequently re-born as Firefly Aerospace as a wholly owned venture bankrolled by Noosphere Ventures.
The company’s second life also includes a redesigned Alpha vehicle that has more launch capacity, with the ability to carry 1000kg to low Earth orbit, or 600kg to sun-synchronous orbit. It’s also developing a lunar lander called “Blue Ghost,” in order to provide lunar payload delivery services for NASA as part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.
Firefly does appear closer than ever to actually flying its launch vehicle, with preparations already significantly advanced at its launch facility in Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The June window for its debut flight is rapidly approaching, and the company is clearly hoping to use the momentum from that demonstration to boost interest for its next big raise, since it’s declaring its intentions ahead of time (while also claiming this Series A round was “oversubscribed.”)
The Series A was led by DADA Holdings, and includes participation by Astera Institute, Canon Ball LLC and others. The secondary generated from the sale of Noosphere holdings also included Series A participants, as well as “other investors” according to Firefly.