Firefly Aerospace Announces Launch Window for NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative Mission

Firefly Aerospace Announces Launch Window for NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative Mission

Firefly Aerospace, an end-to-end space transportation company, announced its Alpha Flight 5 (FLTA005) mission, called Noise of Summer, is scheduled to launch no earlier than June 26. The 30-minute launch window will open at 9 p.m. PST.

“The Firefly team has rapidly matured our Alpha rocket and our responsive launch operations to deliver the dependable one-metric-ton rocket the market is demanding,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “We’re proud to support this NASA mission that will not only prove out the capabilities of Alpha as a repeatable, reliable launch vehicle, but also advance our mission of making space for everyone by supporting some incredible student-led CubeSat initiatives.”

Launching from Firefly’s SLC-2 complex at the Vandenberg Space Force Base, Alpha FLTA005 supports Firefly’s Venture-Class Launch Services Demo 2 contract with NASA that serves to validate the capabilities of launch vehicles that support a new launch class and provide more access to space for small satellites and spacecraft. The mission will deploy the following eight payloads selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, providing U.S. educational institutions and nonprofits with low-cost access to space.

  • CatSat – University of Arizona: CatSat is a technology demonstration of an inflatable antenna for high-speed communications. After reaching low Earth orbit, CatSat’s antenna will deploy and inflate to a diameter of just over one-and-a-half feet to transmit high-definition Earth photos to X-band ground stations at approximately 50 megabits per second, more than 5 times faster than typical home internet speeds.
  • KUbeSat-1 ­­- University of Kansas: KUbeSat-1 will demonstrate a new method to measure the energy and species of primary cosmic rays hitting Earth utilizing a Cosmic Ray Detector. The payload will also utilize High-Altitude Calibration technology to research very high frequency signals generated by cosmic ray interactions with the atmosphere.
  • MESAT1 – University of Maine: MESAT1 is a climate focused payload that will identify urban heat islands, determine concentration of phytoplankton in water bodies, and help predict harmful algal blooms. Four multispectral cameras on board will relay the data down to University of Maine’s ground station for further processing. 
  • R5-S4 and R5-S2-2.0 – NASA’s Johnson Space Center: R5-S4 and R5-S2 will be the first in a line of R5 spacecrafts launched to orbit, featuring Rendezvous and Proximity Operations Fiducial AprilTags to solve the problem of relative navigation between spacecraft. R5-S4 will also demonstrate a “spacecraft license plate” with a small blinking light that continuously flashes a unique number that can be read with a small telescope on the ground to identify and better track satellites among tens of thousands of objects currently in orbit. 
  • Serenity 3 – Teachers in Space: Licensed as an amateur radio broadcaster, Serenity 3 includes a suite of data sensors and a camera that will send data back to Earth and communicate with radios on the ground, allowing anyone with a ham radio to “talk” to Serenity.
  • SOC-i – University of Washington: Satellite for Optimal Control and Imaging (SOC-i) will test an algorithm aimed at supporting autonomous operations with constrained attitude guidance maneuvers computed in real-time aboard the spacecraft. The payload utilizes uses optimization-based attitude guidance methods to compute trajectories in real-time that meet a set of five constraints throughout the maneuvers.
  • TechEdSat-11 (TES-11) – NASA Ames Research Center: TES-11 will conduct several technology demonstrations, including an exo-brake with a deployable parachute-like device aimed at reducing CubeSat de-orbit times, and BrainStack-3, a graphics processing unit and neuromorphic processors that allow for artificial intelligence experiments in low Earth orbit. TES-11 is part of a series of collaborative missions called TechEdSat that pair university students with NASA researchers to evaluate new technologies for use in small satellites while providing student mentorship opportunities with engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

“Through innovative technology partnerships, NASA provides these CubeSat developers a low-cost pathway to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space,” said Hamilton Fernandez, mission manager with NASA’s Launch Services Program. “NASA benefits by having a mechanism for low-cost technology development and scientific research to help bridge strategic knowledge gaps and accelerate flight-qualified technology. The students benefit through hands on experience, which develops the future workforce of the U.S. space industry.”

Alpha FLTA005 and Firefly’s future Alpha launches will continue to be performed as responsive space operations that are observed by members of the U.S. Space Force Tactically Responsive Space team to further define the training, infrastructure, and operational requirements for repeatable, on-demand launch capabilities. During the final launch operations, Firefly will transport the payload fairing to the launch pad and mate it to Firefly’s Alpha rocket within hours of the scheduled liftoff, compared to weeks in a typical operation.

Click here for more details on the Alpha FLTA005 mission and the livestream.

Publisher: SatNow

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013