How to Watch First Ever Firefly Alpha Rocket Launch Today

Firefly Aerospace is due to launch its Alpha rocket for the first time on Thursday, as yet another contender in the private space industry steps forward.

In a tweet posted on Wednesday night, the company said the launch window for the inaugural launch of Firefly Alpha will open at 9:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. PT) on September 2. It will lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

A livestream of the launch is due to be hosted by the Everyday Astronaut YouTube channel, starting 60 minutes before launch.

All times are subject to change, as rocket launches are at the mercy of local weather and depend on technical checks.

Firefly was founded back in 2014 as Firefly Space Systems, the same year in which the company revealed design plans for its Alpha rocket.

Since then the company has gone through various changes, including being bought out of bankruptcy by investment firm Noosphere Ventures in 2017 after a major European investor pulled out.

Though, Noosphere Firefly changed its name to Firefly Aerospace and development of the Alpha rocket continued following delays.

Today, Firefly's Alpha rocket is designed to serve the burgeoning small satellite market. The company says it is capable of launching up to 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) to low-Earth orbit—around 125 miles in altitude—or up to 630 kilograms (1,388 pounds) to a higher sun-synchronous orbit.

Its first stage is powered by what Firefly calls the Reaver 1 rocket engine, of which there are four. The second stage is then powered by a single rocket engine called Lightning 1.

Overall, the rocket is 95 feet tall. The company doesn't say that Alpha is reusable, like the rocket boosters designed by SpaceX and Blue Origin which can land themselves.

Despite this, Firefly states that its standard commercial launch services aboard Alpha cost $15 million per launch and that the company is capable of launching two of the rockets every month.

Firefly became a "unicorn" company this year after raising enough private capital to reach a valuation of more than a billion dollars, co-founder Tom Markusic told CNBC in May.

Unicorn is a term used in the venture capital industry to describe a private start-up firm valued at a billion dollars or more.

On August 17, the company announced it had recruited Lauren Lyons—a former lead systems engineer at Jeff Bezos' own rocket company Blue Origin—as its chief operating officer.

The commercial space industry has become increasingly competitive in recent times with the success of Elon Musk's SpaceX being one notable example of the sector's potential.

In March rocket builder ABL Space became another space unicorn after closing a $170 million round of funding to bring its valuation to well over $1 billion, CNBC reported.

Rocket launch
A long-exposure photograph shows a fiery trail left behind from a Falcon 9 rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force base in California. The commercial space industry is becoming increasingly competitive. David McNew/Getty