Cedar Park Company Spotlight – Firefly Aerospace
Since man’s first steps on the moon back in 1969, the aeronautics
field has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, the aeronautics industry is an
increasingly competitive space, with some of the world’s leading tech companies
expanding the horizon for in-space innovation. One such company is Firefly Aerospace,
which is led by former NASA research scientist, Tom Markusic.
Headquartered in Cedar Park, Texas, Firefly Aerospace develops economical and reliable spacecrafts and in-space services such as the Orbital Transfer Vehicle and the Genesis Lander. Like the growing public and private demand for space services, Firefly Aerospace shows no signs of slowing down.
Why Cedar Park?
Firefly was founded in California in 2014 as an aeronautical startup backed by a former NASA employee. With the goals of working with some of the industry’s biggest names, the company relocated its headquarters to Cedar Park, acquiring a 50,000 square foot manufacturing and testing facility. The decision to move to Cedar Park was an easy one, given the area’s abundance of business-friendly benefits:
- High-quality talent: Thanks to Cedar Park’s proximity to top universities, the ever-expanding talent pool is bursting with high-quality candidates. This, coupled with the city’s low cost of living and high quality of life, enables businesses like Firefly Aerospace to acquire and retain top talent.
- Economic incentives: Texas is generally known for its business-friendly climate since there is no corporate income tax or personal income tax. The state also boasts affordable land, and excellent infrastructure, among other factors.
Additionally, the City of Cedar Park actively pursues economic development by enabling investments from up-and-coming and existing businesses. For example, in the case of Firefly Aerospace, the Cedar Park City Council encouraged the firm to build its HQ and manufacturing facility in Cedar Park by approving $1.2 million in economic incentives.
- Austin’s growing tech scene: Austin is home to top universities, significant business events, a lively music culture, and a burgeoning tech scene — creating a myriad of opportunities for firms like Firefly Aerospace to grow, network, and fundraise. In other words, when compared to Silicon Valley, Austin offers a lot of the same perks at a fraction of the cost.
Firefly Aerospace’s Current Projects
Currently, Firefly is already pioneering aerospace design and innovation with its three launch vehicles — Alpha, Beta, and Gamma — the first of which is ready for testing. In fact, the firm’s Alpha vehicle is set to undergo three test launches from Vandenberg Airforce Base in California during 2020 and 2021. As for Beta and Gamma, these concept rockets are under development for targeted launch tests in 2024 and 2025.
Additionally, in 2018, NASA named Firefly among ten businesses and manufacturers for the Commercial Lunar Payload Service contract (CLPS). This initiative requires companies to fly NASA investigations and technologies to the moon, paving the way for human-crewed missions to the lunar surface. Firefly’s lunar launcher for the CLPS contract is primarily being fabricated in the company’s Cedar Park, TX, facilities, under the name Genesis. The Genesis lunar lander is on track for its first flight in late 2022.
If Houston’s Got a Problem, Cedar Park’s Got a Solution
It is not a coincidence that tech industry leaders such as Dell Computers, Apple, Motorola, Google, and Facebook pick the greater Austin area to host some or all of their primary business operations.
In Cedar Park, economic incentives, local innovation, affordability, and an ever-growing talent pool encourage tech firms like Firefly Aerospace to lay down roots. Today, the company has 180 U.S.-based employees with plans to continue growing, thereby bringing recognition and opportunity to Cedar Park and Texas alike. Find out more about what makes Cedar Park a great place to do business.