'24-hours is not the limit': Austin-area aerospace company breaks record


CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) -- Firefly Aerospace, an end-to-end space transportation company based in Cedar Park, announced this month that they broke the record for rocket launch speed. They prepped the payload for a rocket, named Victus Nox, in 57 hours and launched that rocket in just 27 hours. The previous record, according to Firefly Aerospace, was 21 days.

"We had a mission that we signed up for, we accomplished that," said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace.

The company was tasked by the U.S. Space Force to prep a rocket's payload in 60-hours and complete the launch in 24-hours. The company wouldn't know when the mission would take place or what the payload would be.

Firefly Aerospace completed the launch on September 14th.

"It has long been the desire, particularly for reasons of national security and defense and intelligence applications, to be able to responsively get to space as quickly as we possibly can," Weber said.

Hurdles of speedy space flight

Weber said that updating decades old infrastructure and standardization allowed them to speed up the process. Previously, many steps to prep a rocket were done in sequence, Firefly practiced doing some of these steps at the same time.

"It's cutting out unnecessary steps, it's being as efficient as you possibly can, without sacrificing quality."

Weber said they took extra steps to ensure safety leading up to the launch. "Practice, practice, practice over and over and over," Weber said.

Speedy space flights and the future

Getting people and things into flight quickly will play a huge role in the future of space travel.

"If you need human traffic to get to space, you want to be able to do that in in rapid timeframe," Weber said. He compared space flight to the early aviation industry, where it used to take days to book a flight, now it can be done with your phone.

Being able to replace and repair satellites will also be important. Currently, many satellites have multiple redundancies built in, which are expensive and take up room.

By launching quickly, Weber said that a satellite can be replaced or repaired much quicker. He pointed to telecommunication satellites as an example.

Another thing impacted will be military operations, the reason the Space Force enlisted Firefly to begin with. National security could be strengthened by having the ability to get something into space rapidly.

Firefly plans to up their launch speed in the future, hoping competition from other companies helps drive the new space race.

"The reality is 24-hours is not the limit, we'll go, we'll go faster than that. the industry will go faster than that."


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