The Rise of Boutique Rocket Firms Inspired by SpaceX
SpaceX has dominated the private space industry since it was founded 12 years ago. The company’s thriftiness, its reusable space launch concept, and Elon Musk’s unabashed hopes to land humans on Mars have all contributed to its swift ascent to the top of the corporate spaceflight ladder.
One of the most interesting byproducts of SpaceX’s success, however, is the wealth of opportunities left in its wake. New spaceflight niches are beginning to be filled by a wave of specialized rocket startups, looking to provide solutions for modest satellite manufacturers with limited launch options.
Firefly Space Systems is of the youngest of these upstart private space companies. Founded in January 2014 by veteran engineer Tom Markusic—who has previously developed spaceflight systems at SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin—Firefly aims to be a kind of boutique rocket company, catering to smaller satellite payloads and missions.
“When Elon Musk started SpaceX, he really paved the way for companies like Firefly to even have a chance at getting started and being successful,” the company’s CFO Michael Blum told me over the phone.