Just on the heels of its success in integrating and launching a payload to orbit within 27 hours for the Space Force, Firefly Aerospace flew again — this time with a dedicated flight for Lockheed Martin. The Alpha FLTA004 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 2 West (SLC-2W) at California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base on Friday, Dec. 22, at 9:32 AM PST (17:32 UTC) following a delay due to weather on Wednesday. The first stage of Alpha performed nominally, along with the second stage’s first burn. This placed the satellite into an elliptical 216 by 523-kilometer low-Earth orbit, inclined 140.02 degrees.
Alpha’s second stage had a planned second circularization burn, which did not occur. However, communications have been established with the spacecraft, which may have time to perform some mission objectives before its early reentry.
The mission, codenamed “Fly the Lightning,” deployed an Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) demonstrator payload developed by Lockheed Martin’s Ignite organization as part of an agreement signed by the two companies in June.