L3Harris inks three-launch deal on Firefly’s Alpha rocket

Firefly Aerospace inked a new launch agreement with defense prime L3Harris Technologies for three launches on the Alpha rocket in 2026.

Each mission will launch a single satellite manufactured by L3Harris for the U.S. government, part of a $225 million contract the company won from the U.S government. The launches will lift off from Firefly’s launch site at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

L3Harris develops and manufactures a range of spacecraft and space instruments, from mission-detection satellites to imaging instruments to collect environmental data. The industrial giant recently completed its acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne, in a deal that was valued at $4.7 billion when it was announced last December.

Firefly’s Alpha is a fully expendable small launch vehicle capable of lifting just over 1,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit. Alpha has taken to the skies twice: The maiden launch in 2021 ended in failure due to a premature shutdown of an engine on the first stage of the rocket; the second launch, which took place last October, concluded with a partial success as the rocket reached space but deployed its payloads at a lower orbit than intended.

Firefly’s next launch is due any day now — literally. The company is currently on standby for its first launch for the U.S. Space Force, where it will have just 24 hours notice to launch a payload to space. The ambiguous launch schedule is by design; the launch contract is part of the Space Force’s effort to solicit “rapid response” launch from private industry to boost national security capabilities.