Let’s light that candle! People a Firefly Aerospace took a short break from developing a rocket recently to start an engine in honor of co-founder Max Polyakov, who turned 43 on Tuesday (June 30).
The Reaver rocket engine, in true celebratory form, was used to light candles on a large birthday cake as high-speed cameras rolled around, according to a new video. (The other intended use for the engine will be to launch small satellites to orbit at low cost, using Firefly Alpha rocket.)
“Anyone who is getting older understands that one of the most difficult problems is figuring out how to light all those damned candles on the cake,” said the other Firefly co-founder, Tom Markusic, in the video, that the company released on Twitter and YouTube. In the video, Markusic wore a multicolored birthday hat and a “Texas Rocket Science” T-shirt, a nod to Firefly’s headquarters in Cedar Park, north of Austin.
The video showed Markusic unsuccessfully attempting to light the birthday candles alone. “They melt. They burn you. It’s actually quite a difficult problem,” he said. “To solve the problem, we came up with a rather unique solution to light all the candles at once.”
Just like any rocket science problem, solving it required teamwork. The video showed the careful preparations that Firefly’s workers had prepared to prepare the cake for its special lighting. They measured the sides with a ruler and used hand signals to prepare the engine.
The video then shows a final countdown and engine start – blowing fire on the candles and the cake itself in epic slow motion videos usually used to see how a rocket engine is doing during testing.
He is the co-founder of Firefly, Dr. Max Polyakov’s Bday! @ Maxpolyakov’s passion and determination are the driving forces in the spacewalk of Firefly. We salute his “Full Attack!” attitude towards life by taking a very aggressive approach to start the birthday party! #HappyBirthdayMax pic.twitter.com/1sFI68OCSEJune 30, 2020
Was the result tasty? The team doesn’t say while sharing the charred cake, but their enthusiasm radiates anyway. “Happy birthday, Max!” they cry.
Firefly Alpha is in development for a test launch later this year, with paid flights scheduled to start in 2021 or so. The rocket is designed to send up to 2,200 pounds. (1,000 kilograms) in low Earth orbit and 600 kilograms (1,300 pounds) in synchronous solar orbit.
Firefly is also working on a more powerful launch vehicle called Beta, in addition to a Lunar Lander of Genesis compete for NASA Commercial Payar Payload Services program opportunities to support Artemis crewed missions to the moon.
The Texas-based company was founded in 2017 after a previous entity, Firefly Space Systems, filed for bankruptcy protection after a major European investor withdrew funding. Firefly officials said the withdrawal was related to Brexit, which is the gradual withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.