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Firefly Aerospace Partners With Xtenti For Elytra Demo Mission

Firefly Aerospace and Xtenti Corporation have announced their collaboration on a cutting-edge "Responsive Space Demonstration." The joint project aims to showcase the capabilities of Elytra, an advanced satellite and propulsion system.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Tue Aug 08 2023Written by Zac Aubert

Firefly Aerospace, a leading provider of launch services and satellite solutions, and Xtenti Corporation, a pioneering developer of innovative space technologies, have come together to collaborate on a "Responsive Space Demonstration." with the aim to demonstrate the concept having the ability to rapidly adapt and deploy satellites and related technologies in orbit to meet evolving mission requirements and dynamic operational environments.

The joint mission aims to showcase the capabilities of Elytra. Elytra is an integral component of Firefly's comprehensive space transportation service.

Seamlessly integrable with both Alpha and MLV launch platforms. the diverse fleet of exceptionally agile and scalable orbital vehicles is primed to facilitate on-orbit transfers, hosting, delivery, and servicing, encompassing cislunar space and extending even beyond to support a complete spectrum of government and commercial missions.

Xtenti’s Flight Agnostic Non-interfering, Tunable Mass Rideshare Dispenser Equipment (FANTM-RiDE) enables customers to add, replace, or remove payloads from a manifest within hours before launching without invalidating existing mission loads analyses. With a predetermined common interface, FANTM-RiDE also enables entire loaded dispensers to be quickly interchanged between launch vehicles. FANTM-RiDE further protects multiple payloads on-orbit within a container that can open and close on-demand.

Firefly's first responsive space demonstration mission is scheduled to take place later this year, where they will launch a payload for the US Space Force with just 24 hour notice.

The Firefly x Xtenti mission, will be Firefly's second responsive demonstration mission and supports Xtenti's follow on study contract with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The mission is scheduled to launch in 2024, and will involve a Firefly launch vehicle carrying a small satellite equipped with Xtenti's state-of-the-art propulsion system. This propulsion system is designed to enable precise orbital adjustments, efficient station-keeping, and the ability to rapidly change orbits or inclinations. 

The joint effort seeks to showcase the potential of responsive space capabilities, which could be game-changers for satellite operators, government agencies, and commercial entities seeking to optimize their satellite assets and maximize their utility.

“Firefly is honored to support this critical mission that will further advance our nation’s responsive space capabilities and debut Firefly’s Elytra vehicle that’s filling a void in the on-orbit servicing market...As the first of many missions utilizing multiple Firefly vehicles, this operation will lay the groundwork for Firefly’s end-to-end mission services, proving our capabilities to rapidly launch, maneuver, and deploy satellites at a time and place of our customers’ choosing.” - Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace

“Responsive delivery of space capabilities to orbit needs a paradigm shift, and Xtenti is excited to demonstrate two of FANTM-RiDE’s game-changing capabilities that enable responsive space...FANTM-RiDE not only enables rapid launch with its Rapid Rideshare Reconfiguration (R3) capability that eliminates slow and costly analytical barriers to fast payload hot-swaps, but it also enables on-orbit pre-positioning of payloads already stored on orbit for quick deployment on demand.” - Dan Lim, President and CEO of Xtenti

The responsive space concept has gained traction in recent years due to its potential to enhance satellite operations, reduce mission costs, and facilitate rapid response to emerging situations. The joint Firefly-Xtenti demonstration aims to prove the viability and effectiveness of responsive space technologies under realistic conditions.

As part of the demonstration, engineers from both companies will closely monitor the satellite's performance, its ability to execute precise orbital adjustments, and its responsiveness to commands sent from ground control. The results of the demonstration could pave the way for more advanced and versatile satellite systems in the future.

The collaboration between Firefly Aerospace and Xtenti Corporation marks a significant milestone in the ongoing evolution of space technology. With the space industry experiencing rapid growth and increasing demand for satellite services, responsive space capabilities could play a crucial role in shaping the future of space exploration, communication, and scientific research.