Firefly appoints former Blue Origin, SpaceX engineer as COO

With the company approaching its first Alpha launch, and the development of the Blue Ghost lunar lander, it says Lyons’ priorities will be to focus on “transitioning Firefly from an R&D environment to a production environment”, responding rapidly to changing market dynamics.

She will be joining Firefly from Blue Origin where she was a Lead Systems Engineer in Blue Origin’s Advanced Concepts. Prior to Blue Origin, Lyons spent several years at SpaceX where she held leadership roles on the Dragon, Falcon 9, and Starlink programmes, with responsibilities in Vehicle Engineering, Safety and Mission Assurance, Chief Engineering, Business Development, and Mission Management.

She had also previously been a medical device R&D engineer, worked on Mars robots at NASA/JPL and taught leadership courses at Harvard University.

Firefly growth

“Firefly is entering a pivotal and exciting phase of its growth,” said Lyons, “I’m thrilled to take on the challenge of leading the efforts in scaling the company’s infrastructure to support rapid growth, high execution rate, and deliver exceptional value and service to our customers.”

Lauren Lyons is pictured above with Firefly CEO Tom Markusic.

“I’m incredibly excited to partner with Lauren to take Firefly to new heights,” said Markusic. “In addition to her strong engineering, project management and mission assurance experience, she is a great communicator. Her ability to build productive relationships with the full spectrum of co-workers, collaborators and customers is perfectly aligned with Firefly’s vision of ‘Making Space for Everyone’.”

The Alpha launch vehicle is capable of delivering 1 metric ton to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 630 kg to the 500 km Sun–Synchronous Orbit (SSO).

Providing launch options for both full vehicle and ride share customers, it is planned to launch twice per month. This is “a launch cadence that will enable customers to fly according to their schedule and to the orbit they desire,” say the company.

LSP

Back in December 2020, NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) awarded three contracts to launch small satellites (SmallSats) to space, including CubeSats, microsats or nanosatellites.

Firefly was among the three US companies selected to provide the commercial launches (along with Astra Space and Relativity Space). The value of its fixed-price contract was $9.8m.

See also: NASA boosts SmallSats via Launch Services Program