Firefly Aerospace Expands 'Rocket Ranch' Manufacturing Capacity

The company's expanded manufacturing space went from 92,000 to 207,000 square feet.

Firefly Aerospace New Automated Fiber Placement
Firefly Aerospace

Firefly Aerospace today held an official ribbon cutting in celebration of the company's Rocket Ranch expansion in Briggs, Texas. Firefly more than doubled the size of its manufacturing facilities, added two new test stands, and installed machinery to support the production of Northrop Grumman's Antares 330 and the Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) the companies are co-developing together.

Firefly's expanded manufacturing space from 92,000 to 207,000 square feet includes two new large-scale buildings for rocket production, assembly, and integration. The company also built a new higher thrust engine stand to test Firefly's Miranda and Vira engines with up to 230,000 pounds of thrust and five times the load capacity as Firefly's current Reaver and Lightning engine stand. Designed to accommodate three engine bays as production cadence increases, the new stand provides redundant, high accuracy thrust and mass flow rate data to further improve mission assurance.

The expansion also includes a new 100-foot structural test stand to conduct pressurized axial loading to mimic flight loads. In total, Firefly now has six test stands at its Briggs location to support the robust testing performed across all vehicle lines.

Firefly is utilizing a new automated fiber placement (AFP) machine, sourced from Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc., a brand of Camozzi Group's Machine Tool Division, to rapidly fabricate the carbon composite structures, including barrels, domes, and other composite structures for the first stage of Antares 330 and both stages of MLV. Now operational, the AFP machine was recently used to build Firefly's first carbon composite barrel for MLV development testing.

In addition to the AFP machine, Firefly is also installing a new 7-axis robotic powermill to drill and trim carbon composite structures with high speed and accuracy. This multi-axis machine, also procured from Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc., can rotate rocket barrels up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) in diameter with a built-in dust collection system.

Other recent facility expansions include two new mission operations centers at Firefly's spacecraft facility in Cedar Park, Texas, to support a growing number of launch, lunar, and on-orbit missions. Firefly also expanded its Cedar Park headquarters with a mezzanine to accommodate nearly twice as many employees.

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