Firefly Aerospace becomes the latest space unicorn after $175 million raise

Firefly Aerospace raised $175 million in private capital, the Texas-based space company announced on Tuesday, as it prepares for the inaugural launch of its Alpha rocket.

“This gives us runway to have multiple successful Alpha [rocket] launches, successfully execute a lot of the main milestones for the Blue Ghost [lunar] lander program,” Firefly co-founder and CEO Tom Markusic told CNBC.

The company’s latest financing was led by DADA Holdings, a private investment firm that largely holds positions in metals and mining companies. The round was joined by several other investors, including Astera Institute, which will have Jed McCaleb join as a representative on Firefly’s board of directors. McCaleb is most well known for his roles in the cryptocurrency landscape.

Markusic declined to specify what Firefly’s valuation is after this raise, only noting that it’s “just over a billion dollars” – and therefore making it the latest space company to reach unicorn status. Firefly’s fundraise was also unique in that the company itself offered $75 million in equity, while its majority investor Noosphere Ventures sold $100 million of its stake. Noosphere – based in Menlo Park, California but led by Ukrainian investor Max Polyakov – now owns less than 50% of Firefly.

“It just makes business sense to have a more diverse cap table,” Markusic said, emphasizing the addition of U.S. investors into Firefly.

Firefly also outlined its intention to raise an additional $300 million later this year, after it launches its inaugural Alpha rocket. While the $175 million finances its near-term development plans, the company wants to expand its services across the space industry. Firefly is most well known for its launch business, with the Alpha and the planned Beta, but it is also working on a lunar lander called Blue Ghost and a space utility vehicle – also known as a “space tug,” to transport satellites into unique orbits after a launch.

“From the beginning we architected the company code in a completely different way,” Markusic said. “We’re not a rocket company, we’re not a launch vehicle company. We are an end-to-end space transportation company.”

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