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NRO to conduct responsive space mission with Firefly and Xtenti

NRO to conduct responsive space mission with Firefly and Xtenti

Rendering of Firefly’s Elytra orbital vehicle with Xtenti’s Fantm-Ride payload dispenser Credit: Firefly

LOGAN, Utah – The National Reconnaissance Office announced a contract Aug. 8 with Firefly Aerospace and Xtenti, a Texas-based space logistics startup, for a responsive space mission.

The NRO mission, scheduled to launch on a Firefly Alpha launch vehicle in 2024, will demonstrate multiple on-orbit deployments with Firefly’s Elytra orbital vehicle and Xtenti’s Fantm-Ride small satellite dispenser.

Elytra will deploy commercial rideshare payloads with Fantm-Ride, before performing an on-orbit maneuver. After the maneuver, Elytra will remain in orbit on standby, prepared to deploy U.S. government payloads on-demand.

“Firefly is honored to support this critical mission that will further advance our nation’s responsive space capabilities and debut Firefly’s Elytra vehicle that’s filling a void in the on-orbit servicing market,” Firefly Aerospace CEO Bill Weber said in a statement. “As the first of many missions utilizing multiple Firefly vehicles, this operation will lay the groundwork for Firefly’s end-to-end mission services, proving our capabilities to rapidly launch, maneuver, and deploy satellites at a time and place of our customers’ choosing.” 

“Responsive delivery of space capabilities to orbit needs a paradigm shift, and Xtenti is excited to demonstrate two of FANTM-RiDE’s game-changing capabilities that enable responsive space,” dan Lim, Xtenti president and CEO said in a statement. “FANTM-RiDE not only enables rapid launch with its Rapid Rideshare Reconfiguration capability that eliminates slow and costly analytical barriers to fast payload hot-swaps, but it also enables on-orbit pre-positioning of payloads already stored on orbit for quick deployment on demand.”

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco.

Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She…

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