Firefly Aerospace Introduces Enhanced Elytra Orbital Vehicles

Firefly Aerospace has announced the expansion of its on-orbit services with a new line of orbital vehicles called Elytra. These highly mobile and scalable vehicles, named after the wings of a firefly, will offer a range of services including on-orbit mobility, hosting, delivery, and servicing across cislunar space and beyond. Elytra will be able to service the entire lifecycle of government and commercial missions when launched on Firefly’s small- and medium-lift launch vehicles.

According to Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace, Elytra will open up access to more orbits, extend the life of each mission, and provide deorbiting services to help minimize space debris. He also highlighted the advantage of Firefly’s robust vehicle line in quickly launching, deploying, and servicing satellites on-orbit in response to dynamic changes in space.

Formerly known as Firefly’s Space Utility Vehicle, Elytra consists of three vehicle models: Elytra Dawn, Elytra Dusk, and Elytra Dark. Each model is designed to support different types of on-orbit missions. Elytra Dawn is optimized for low Earth orbit (LEO) and can be rapidly launched to support hosting, rideshare, and delivery missions. Elytra Dusk offers enhanced maneuverability, power, and autonomy for on-orbit tasking from LEO to geosynchronous orbit (GEO), including relocation, space domain awareness, and deorbiting services. Elytra Dark is ruggedized to serve as persistent orbital infrastructure and support transfers from LEO to lunar orbit and beyond.

Firefly Aerospace Introduces Enhanced Elytra Orbital Vehicles
© Firefly Aerospace

Jana Spruce, Vice President of Spacecraft at Firefly Aerospace, emphasized that Elytra vehicles are scalable and customizable to meet each customer’s unique on-orbit needs. She also highlighted that Elytra utilizes flight-proven components from Firefly’s launch vehicles and landers, ensuring rapid mission schedules and affordable access across cislunar space and beyond. The vehicles are designed, manufactured, and tested in-house, utilizing carbon composite structures, core avionics, and propulsion systems from Firefly’s Alpha vehicle and Blue Ghost lunar lander. Additionally, Elytra benefits from the on-orbit heritage and learnings of Spaceflight’s Sherpa vehicle following Firefly’s recent acquisition of the company.

Firefly’s first Elytra mission is set to launch in 2024 aboard the company’s Alpha vehicle.