Firefly Is Going To Launch Alpha Rockets From Sweden’s Esrange

Firefly Is Going To Launch Alpha Rockets From Sweden’s Esrange

The Esrange Space Centre in northern Sweden has agreed to serve as the launchpad for Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket.

Beginning in 2026, Firefly Aerospace of the United States and the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) will launch Firefly’s Alpha rocket from Esrange spaceport as part of a cooperative agreement announced on June 27.

Esrange Launch Complex 3C will host the launches. SSC claims that changes to the pad are already in progress. Firefly and the Swedish side want to help their commercial, civic, and defense clientele.

“With the inaugural Alpha launch scheduled for 2026, the new complex will support commercial customers in the broader European market and enable tactically responsive space missions to further advance national security for NATO countries,” an SSC statement read.

Since 1966, Esrange has been in business. Its primary function has been to enable sounding rocket flights for atmospheric and microgravity studies. In January 2023, it opened the enlarged orbital launch facilities.

Days prior, Firefly had declared that it will launch from Wallops Island, Virginia, instead than Cape Canaveral, as originally thought. Recently, Firefly and Lockheed Martin signed a multi-launch agreement that runs through 2029.

“The future of spaceflight requires more orbital launch sites across the globe as we continue to see growing demand among domestic and international launch customers,” said Bill Weber, CEO at Firefly Aerospace, in a statement.

“Firefly is incredibly humbled to partner with SSC and become the first U.S. company to launch from continental Europe. Together, we’re unlocking a long-awaited capability for the European satellite market, and we invite those waiting to fly with us on our flight-proven Alpha vehicle.”

Early on July 2, Eastern Time, Firefly will also launch for the first time since December. For the ELaNA 43 (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites 43) mission, Alpha is scheduled to launch eight CubeSats. The CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) of NASA includes the mission.

A Lockheed Martin technology demonstration payload was carried on the late 2023 voyage. Nevertheless, the upper stage of Alpha fails to relight. As a result, the satellite became stuck in an orbit, forcing the spacecraft to return within a few weeks. Up to 1,030 kg can be transported by Alpha to low Earth orbit.

SSC and Perigee Aerospace, a South Korean rocket firm, signed a contract last month. It was the first orbital launch cooperation for SSC.

French Guiana, the site of the Ariane and Vega launches, provides Europe with access to orbital rockets. But currently, orbital launches from the European continent are available at Esrange and Andøya Spaceport in Norway.

The German business Rocket Factory Augsburg will also start conducting orbital launches from SaxaVord Spaceport, which is situated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland.

Sanchita Patil

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