Firefly Aerospace will receive Vandenberg launch pad

The private company Firefly Aerospace received permission from the US Air Force to use the launch complex SLC-2W (Space Launch Complex 2 West), located at the Vandenberg cosmodrome. It was built over half a century ago and in recent years has provided launches of the Delta 2 rocket. In September of this year, the carrier will be decommissioned, which will allow it to be redesigned for the needs of Firefly Aerospace.
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According to Firefly launch director Brad Obrocto, the company will work with partners from the US Air Force and NASA to ensure a smooth transition of the complex to the use of other media. In Firefly, Aerospace expects to retain much of the existing infrastructure. The greatest changes will be associated with the installation of the pedestal required for the mobile conveyor, which will deliver the rocket to the launch pad and then raise it to a vertical position. Also in Firefly Aerospace are going to update the dashboard stuffing of the complex.
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If the last flight of the Delta 2 takes place as scheduled, Firefly specialists must retool the launch pad to ensure the first launch of the Alpha light rocket by the third quarter of 2019. By the end of 2020, the company expects to reach the level of one launch per month.
Firefly Aerospace (formerly Firefly Space Systems) was founded in Texas in 2014 by a group of aerospace engineers. In October 2016, the company lost the support of the main investor and was forced to declare bankruptcy. In March 2017, Firefly was bought by the company EOS Launcher, which is owned by Ukrainian entrepreneur Maxim Polyakov.
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Firefly Aerospace engineers are currently developing two types of lightweight carriers known as Alpha and Beta. Alpha is a two-stage rocket, working on a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene. When launched from Vandenberg, it will be able to launch up to 630 kg of payload per 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit. When launched from other spaceports, the rocket will be able to launch into orbits with a low inclination up to 1000 kg of cargo.
This is significantly more than the declared power of similar lightweight rockets being developed by other space startups. Alpha must compete with the popular Indian carrier PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle), which is actively used to launch small satellites.
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As for the Beta rocket, its main constructive difference from the Alpha is in two side solid-fuel accelerators. Thanks to them, the rocket will be able to bring up to 4,000 kg of payload to a low earth orbit and up to 400 kg to a geostationary orbit.
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After re-equipment, the SLC-2W complex will be able to support both Aplha and Beta launches. At the same time, according to Obrocto, the Firefly management is exploring the possibility of launching Beta from other sites. Potential candidates include a launch site at Cape Canaveral, a mid-Atlantic regional spaceport on Walops, and the Camden spaceport, which is planned to be built in Georgia.

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