Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov is on track for a very successful year after his Firefly Aerospace company signed a deal with the National American Space Agency (NASA).
The aerospace firm that was bordering on bankruptcy as recently as 2017 now finds itself awarded a $93 million contract for ferrying NASA equipment to the moon. The mission will play a part in NASA’s plans to expand its lunar program, beginning with the launch of the Artemis II mission in 2022.
Latest Round of Investment Finds New Partners
The deal must surely have helped Max Polyakov with his latest round of funding for Firefly Aerospace, which has brought new partners on board, resulting in extra investment for the firm. New partners involved this year include DADA Holdings, Raven One Ventures, and Canon Ball. Another new partner is the cryptocurrency billionaire Jed McCaleb, who will also be joining Firefly Aerospace’s board of directors. So far this year, Max Polyakov and Firefly Aerospace have managed to net $75 million in investment for the company, in expectation of the firm’s first rocket launch in June of this year. Firefly’s leadership is aiming to win $300 million more before the year is over to help the firm with its ambitious plans for the coming years.
First Launch Just Weeks Away
Based in Austin, Texas, Firefly Aerospace’s popularity with investors is remarkable, considering the company has yet to launch anything into space. Upon closer inspection, however, there appears much of interest to the new partners. For the time being, the firm will be focused on making the launch of its Alpha rocket a success. The craft will be capable of transporting payloads of up to 2,200 lbs, making it a medium-sized rocket somewhere between the small rockets of Rocket labs and the larger vehicles of SpaceX. The maiden launch will take place in California next month at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. Onboard will be a cargo of CubeSat satellites that the rocket will fire into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). If the mission is successful, the company plans for a much shorter time frame for its next launch, possibly as soon as October this year. The success of the Alpha launch will also provide more favorable conditions for the next round of investment, which will prove crucial to the company’s expansion in the future.
Company’s Expansion on the Horizon
The Alpha launch may just be the beginning of the company’s way to success. Firefly Aerospace has already started development of the Blue Ghost spacecraft that will complete the NASA mission. Elsewhere, the company is looking into designing an even bigger rocket than the Alpha model, along with a reusable space plane at some point in the future. Firefly’s current value is over $1 billion, and its stock is likely to rise following a successful launch in June. It remains to be seen who the company’s next high-profile collaboration will be with.