There’s two fundamental approaches to lower space launch cost:
K-strategy: Building sophisticated reusable rockets that can fly quickly again after landing.
r-strategy: Instead building simple expendable rockets by the mass as cheaply as possible.
Firefly, looks to do just the latter.
It looks to be a straightforward simple design:
- self-pressurized pressure fed
- eight engines in the first stage
- one similar engine in the second stage
- carbon fiber tanks
- “aerospike” in the first stage, though the individual bells are relatively large and few compared to some others. It might still work.
Their California office sits 100 meters from SpaceX, and Markusic is from SpaceX. Also, Scorpius which has built carbon rockets and pressure vessels is just a few blocks away.
They speak of smallish satellites, possible with modern tech. I’m slightly skeptical of the r strategy – but they sure are free to try. It might work well in this niche.
What are the fundamentals deciding which strategy is better – why are disposable gloves used for some cases, and reusable for some others?
Of course one could just compute the one-time, fixed and per-flight costs for each and find out some crossover points. But I feel there’s something more. So I don’t have a clear answer to this yet. The thinking has been going on for years.
Disclaimer, according to Wikipedia, the r/K selection theory of quantity vs quality offspring is already outdated.