Watch Firefly Aerospace launch 8 cubesats to orbit tonight

Firefly Aerospace is set to launch its Alpha rocket for the fifth time on July 2, and the event will be live-streamed. Known as the “Noise of Summer” mission, the launch is scheduled from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 12:03 a.m. EDT (9:03 p.m. local California time on July 1). Firefly and will host a webcast, with carrying the live stream.

The mission aims to send eight cubesats to low Earth orbit. These cubesats were selected through NASA’s Cubesat Launch Initiative, which supports satellites developed at U.S. colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations. The eight cubesats were developed by teams from the University of Arizona, the University of Kansas, the University of Maine, the University of Washington, Teachers in Space, and two NASA facilities – Johnson Space Center in Houston and Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

In addition to deploying the cubesats, the “Noise of Summer” mission serves to demonstrate Firefly’s ability to respond quickly to a launch directive. The company will conduct the mission as another responsive space operation, with the payload fairing being transported to the launch pad and mated to the Alpha rocket within hours of the scheduled liftoff, compared to weeks in a typical operation.

Firefly has shown capability in expedited activity, having launched the “Victus Nox” mission for the U.S. Space Force just 27 hours after receiving the official order – the fastest such turnaround for any national security mission, according to the company.

Alpha made its debut in September 2021, but the test flight failed shortly after liftoff. The rocket’s second mission, in October 2022, was a partial success, delivering seven satellites to orbit but deploying them too low. The third mission, “Victus Nox,” was a success. The fourth launch, on Dec. 22, 2022, had mixed results, delivering its payload to low Earth orbit but not achieving the target orbit. However, the payload developer, Lockheed Martin, was able to complete their primary mission objectives following insertion.

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