Firefly Conducts First Hot-Fire Test of Miranda Engine

Firefly Aerospace successfully conducted the inaugural hot-fire test of its cutting-edge Miranda engine at the company's Texas test site. During the test Firefly hot-fired up to 65% power, with the aim to validate the engine's startup sequence, laying the foundation for future testing phases.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Published: 29th Nov 2023 20:13 GMT
Written by: Zac Aubert

Firefly Aerospace successfully conducted the inaugural hot-fire test of its cutting-edge Miranda engine at the company's Texas test site. During the test Firefly hot-fired up to 65% power, with the aim to validate the engine's startup sequence, laying the foundation for future testing phases.

Miranda, designed to utilize liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants, demonstrated its capability by generating an impressive 230,000 pounds-force of thrust during the test. Firefly plans to incrementally progress toward a full-duration test in the coming months, with a target run time of 206 seconds.

The Miranda engine will play a pivotal role in Firefly's upcoming projects, particularly as the powerhouse for the Antares 330's first stage.

The Antares 330, a collaboration between Firefly and Northrop Grumman, will feature seven Miranda engines and is slated to replace the Ukrainian-built first stage on Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket. The joint venture anticipates the Antares 330 to make its maiden flight by mid-2025.

A parallel application of the Miranda engine is planned for Firefly's Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV), where seven engines will be integrated into the first stage. The MLV, expected to debut in late 2025, boasts a significant payload capacity of up to 16,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit, surpassing the Antares 330's 10,000-kilogram capability. Additionally, the MLV's second stage will feature a single vacuum-optimized Miranda engine.

"Upgrading the first stage of Antares in parallel with developing the Medium Launch Vehicle enables our two companies to bring a new launch vehicle to market more rapidly while also reducing risk in the design process." - Scott Lehr, Vice President and General Manager of Northrop Grumman Launch and Missile Defense Systems

"Building on the legacy of Firefly’s rapidly developed Reaver and Lightning engines, Miranda is the fastest propulsion system we’ve built and tested to date," - Bill Weber, Firefly Chief Executive

Weber outlined Firefly's ambitious launch schedule, stating that the company aims for the first MLV launch to align with eligibility for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase Three program. The goal is to position themselves for the program’s "lane one" for emerging launch vehicles by late 2025.

Amidst these endeavors, Firefly is concurrently ramping up production of its Alpha launch vehicle. With a recent successful launch on September 14 for the U.S. Space Force's Victus Nox mission, Firefly plans four Alpha launches in 2024, followed by at least six launches in 2025.

Firefly's existing facilities have the potential to support the production of up to 24 Alphas annually, provided there is sufficient demand.

In terms of financial backing, Firefly remains robust, having closed a third tranche of a Series C round on November 10, bringing the total funds raised since February to $300 million at a pre-money valuation of $1.5 billion.

"We’re capitalized and we’re funded for our foreseeable future" - Bill Weber, Firefly Chief Executive

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