Firefly Aerospace tests its Lightning 1 engine on March 13, 2018. Photo Credit: Ryan Chylinski / SpaceFlight Insider
In a demo for a crowd of people from the Austin, Texas, South by Southwest festival, Firefly Aerospace fired its “Lightning 1” engine at 10 percent thrust for about a minute. The engine design will propel the second stage of the company’s “Firefly Alpha” rocket into space as early as 2019.
The March 13, 2018, test of the thrust chamber assembly took place at the company’s Cedar Park, Texas, engineering site on Test Stand 1, which is designed to facilitate up to 450,000 pounds (2,000 kilonewtons) of thrust. The Lightning 1 engine will have a maximum vacuum thrust of 15,714 pounds (69.9 kilonewtons).
Currently under development, the engine will power the upper stage of the company’s 95-foot-tall (29-meter-tall), two-stage Firefly Alpha rocket. The full vehicle will be capable of sending some 2,200 pounds (1000 kilograms) into low-Earth orbit (LEO) for about $10 million. Additionally, it will be able to send 1,300 pounds (600 kilograms) into a 310-mile (500-kilometer) Sun-synchronous orbit.
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