Firefly DREAM Payload

The quest for space travel inspires STEM interest like no other endeavor. Firefly has promoted that interest by opening its doors to youth though Firefly Academy, the Base11 Challenge, and the Firefly International Rocket Event (FIRE).

Firefly is taking their STEM commitment literally to the next level, by announcing a global competition to host academic and educational payloads, free of charge, on the inaugural flight of the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle. The Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission (DREAM) mission provides a unique opportunity to gain access to space. All ideas are welcome – from a child’s drawing, to a university science experiment, to a startup company cube sat. We encourage everyone to propose their idea for a DREAM payload to Firefly for consideration.

Submission guidelines are available in the “DREAM Payload Submission Criteria” link. Please send any questions to The deadline for submissions is June 30th, 2019.

Firefly Dream Payload

DREAM Payload
Submission Criteria


What is the anticipated launch date, and how far in advance of launch does the payload need to be shipped to the launch provider? What is the likelihood this date is met?
Alpha Initial Launch Capability is December 2019, and we will give you notice ASAP if that slips. We expect the payload to ship No Later Than L-2 months. Alpha needs to hit key milestones each month, if we mis these milestones, then we will let you know of the expected slip to the launch date as soon as possible.

Conops questions:

What is the desired timeline for IMU data acquisition during the launch profile?
Not required
When should RF transmission from the payload begin?
We will send you a separation signal detailed in the “DREAM Payload Submission Criteria”, please figure out how to transfer this into a power on signal.
What is the attitude profile of vehicle throughout the mission?
TBD, we will take your inputs into consideration, but we do not have any hard requirements right now.
What are the expected orbit parameters: altitude, inclination, eccentricity?
300km circular, 97.x inclination. No specific LTAN to keep launch window as large as possible but planning for an afternoon launch.
What is the expected launch vehicle injection accuracy?
Firefly’s injection accuracy is predicted to be as shown, but first launch may be off until we fine tune the engine shutdown:
  • +/- 5 km Perigee altitude
  • +/- 15 km Apogee altitude
  • +/-0.1 deg inclination
What are the expected attitude and body rates upon completion of the upper stage burn?
Firefly’s predicted pointing accuracy for SC separation deployment is:
  • > 1 ft per second separation velocity
  • < 1 deg/sec in pitch, yaw and roll
  • +/- 1.4 deg in pointing

Interface and environments questions:

Mounting configuration: drawings, hole locations, screw types, etc.
Standard 8” Circular. See page 4 and 5 for basic details. OTV_PUG.pdf
Mass and volume constraints
Volume and mass up to 12U for cantilevered, 27U for mounting on top of the ESPA on a plate.
Interface control document(s)
We will keep it simple!
Deliverables from institution/startup to Firefly: test results, documentation, etc.
Yes, see below in general text
List of environmental testing requirements? What are the expected levels for vibration testing? Do we need to do a shock test? See expected flight levels below.
We would expect that you show the SC can survive the relevant environments (qual for critical components) and acceptance for the system as shown in figure below. Follow SMC-S-016 or GEVS for qualification factors to add to the expected levels below.
Thermal environment while attached to vehicle?
See below as our standard once in the fairing, but you may see warmer (up to 80F) while in storage waiting for integration, but unlikely.


Random Vibration




Thermal / Cleanliness

  • Class 100k (ISO 8) PPF and PLF
  • GN2 available as an upgrade
  • Temp controlled air 10-21deg C (50-70F)
  • Relative humidity from 20-60%
  • PLF/PAF Visibly Clean to NASA SN-C-0005
  • Components line of sight of PL comply to 1% TML 0.1% CVCM
  • The fairing peak vent < 0.04 bar/sec (0.6 psi/sec)
  • Maximum FMH < 1135 W/m2 (0.1 BTU/ft2/s)
  • PLF internal surface temp < 200F [93C]
We understand that there are risks associated with the launch of any new vehicle. Due to the cost of payload development, we would like to establish an agreement that in the event of a launch failure, the payload will be manifested on subsequent launch attempts. Can this be documented in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?
We cannot agree to future “Free” launch opportunities, but we will be open to discuss our intent for future opportunities.
What is the launch location for Firefly? Would it be possible for students/faculty or staff to attend launch?
SLC-2 at VAFB. Viewing will be allowed but needs to be coordinated in advance. Offsite viewing is available for anyone, onsite may be available for US citizens.