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Firefly Aerospace plans to launch Alpha rocket on Thursday

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Posted at 11:31 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 02:31:53-04

Firefly Aerospace is one day away from their very first rocket launch.

"Tomorrow is the first flight of our Alpha launch vehicle. What I expect is I expect it to go to orbit, it's designed to go to orbit, it'll go 300 kilometers above the surface of the earth, take off right over that western horizon, show up back on the eastern horizon 90 minutes later and keep going around the earth," said Tom Markusic, Firefly Aerospace Founder & CEO.

Firefly can launch the rocket at any time between 6-10 p.m. Thursday, though that is subject to change depending on weather conditions.

"The vehicle is fully ready to go and we're confident that we can make it to orbit on our first flight tomorrow," said Markusic.

The main purpose of the Alpha Launch is to make sure Firefly employees are on the right track, using the correct inputs and working toward the goal of putting other projects into space.

"The real purpose of this mission is to get to space, to get as much data as we possibly can on ascent so that we can come back again on the next flight and do it even better," said Firefly Aerospace Chief Operating Officer, Lauren Lyons.

Firefly is based in Texas but Lyons says more than 200 employees and some of their families are flying in to see Alpha's launch.

"It's just such an incredible feeling to finally be at this day and the fact that people get to watch this with us and just be a part of this with us, it just means the world," said Lyons.

Thursday's launch results will determine where the company stands on other projects.

"Oh it's really gratifying, you know? We've been working on this for years and years a lot of hard work, a lot of money's gone into this and tomorrow's the payoff. We find out where we actually are," said Markusic.

In the hours leading up to 6pm Thursday, crews will be running final tests and clearing the area in preparation for the launch.

Firefly's Alpha rocket is designed to address the needs of the small satellite market.