Firefly Aerospace to Create Framework for DARPA’s LunA-10 Orbital Spacecraft Hubs

Firefly Aerospace, a player in space transportation, has been chosen to develop a framework for integrated on-orbit spacecraft hubs as part of DARPA’s LunA-10 capability study. The hubs, utilizing Firefly’s Elytra orbital vehicles, aim to provide versatile services in cislunar space, including refueling, delivery, and transportation.

Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace, emphasized the company’s commitment to innovation and addressing industry challenges. He stated that Firefly’s vision involves enhancing on-orbit mission responsiveness and reducing timescales by using scalable spacecraft hubs that cater to various missions in cislunar space. Weber expressed the team’s eagerness to contribute to DARPA’s LunA-10 initiative, which is crucial for the future of responsive space operations in the cislunar ecosystem.

DARPA’s LunA-10 program aims to develop actionable frameworks within seven months to guide the commercial lunar infrastructure of the next decade. The objective is to establish commercially operational, shareable, and scalable systems in lunar and cislunar regions by 2035.

Firefly’s role in this initiative includes devising a framework for an aggregated on-orbit spacecraft hub. These hubs will dock spacecraft together and offer on-demand services to both incoming and remote cislunar spacecraft. The services provided to visiting spacecraft will include propellant transfers, payload exchanges, and shared use of power, computation, and thermal resources. Firefly’s Elytra vehicles stationed at these hubs will provide dynamic mission services such as payload delivery, orbital transfers, repositioning, and de-orbiting.

Jana Spruce, Vice President of Spacecraft at Firefly Aerospace, highlighted the company’s unique capabilities and how their comprehensive portfolio positions them ideally to support DARPA’s LunA-10 project. She mentioned that Firefly’s adaptable Elytra vehicles are designed for quick deployment and can serve as robust on-orbit service platforms for various government and commercial clients.

The proposed framework will outline the necessary robotic interfaces, operational protocols, and distributed control systems for any spacecraft to join the hub, resupply, and redeploy as needed. The initial hubs are planned to be stationed at Earth-Moon Lagrange points, providing efficient and cost-effective mission services for spacecraft heading towards lunar or Earth trajectories.