Firefly Aerospace Launches Elytra Vehicles For On-Orbit Services

Firefly Aerospace Launches Elytra Vehicles For On-Orbit Services

Firefly’s Elytra presents an enhanced vehicle lineup for rapid on-orbit solutions.

Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a U.S.-based end-to-end space transportation company, has unveiled its latest series of orbital vehicles, Elytra. Taking inspiration from the wings of a firefly, Elytra provides capabilities for on-orbit movement, hosting, delivery and servicing across cislunar space (i.e. the space region from Earth up to the Moon) and further. These vehicles are compatible with Firefly’s existing range of launch vehicles, ensuring a seamless process for both government and commercial projects.

Bill Weber, Firefly’s CEO, highlighted that Elytra augments the company’s capability to service more orbits and extend mission durations, while also aiding in space debris reduction. He emphasized their capacity to efficiently launch and service satellites in space, adapting to the evolving dynamics of outer space.

Previously referred to as Firefly’s Space Utility Vehicle, the Elytra lineup consists of three models: 

  • Elytra Dawn, optimized for low Earth orbit (LEO) missions like responsive hosting, rideshare and delivery; 
  • Elytra Dusk, designed for tasks, such as relocation, space domain awareness and deorbiting services, ranging from LEO to geosynchronous orbit (GEO); and
  • Elytra Dark, which is robustly built for persistent orbital tasks including transfers from LEO to lunar orbit.

Jana Spruce, Firefly’s Vice President of Spacecraft, emphasized the adaptability of the Elytra vehicles. She mentioned that these vehicles, which incorporate many components from Firefly’s established launch and lander models, are designed to meet individual client needs, ensuring timely mission schedules and cost-effective access across space.

Furthermore, Elytra’s design leverages the hardware previously used on Firefly’s Alpha vehicle and systems from the Blue Ghost lunar lander. Their recent acquisition of Spaceflight paved the way for blending the heritage and insights of the Sherpa vehicle into Elytra.

Elytra Dusk’s 2024 mission

Firefly has scheduled the debut mission for Elytra in 2024, which will be launched aboard the Firefly Alpha vehicle. In a collaborative effort with space logistics firm Xtenti, the first Elytra Dusk vehicle will be embarking on its inaugural journey. This collaboration involves utilizing Xtenti’s small satellite dispenser in tandem with the orbital vehicle. The mission forms part of a contract with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), aiming to demonstrate the dispenser’s rapid responsiveness to on-orbit needs.

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