Firefly's announcement of its contract to provide access to Lockheed Martin's small satellite experiment is great news for the industry.
This is excellent news for the "New Space" market as we see a growing number of Orbital access providers beginning operations. Firefly is one of the latest new orbital access providers that has begun operations in the market. I believe that as these new access providers come online we will see demand for their services grow. Companies like Northrop Grummer which are highly dependent in their business models on cost-plus and government-funded contracts failed to recognize the growing need for inexpensive orbital providers and did not go through with the development of their Omega-A rocket. I think this was a mistake.
This rocket would have found and fostered the growing demand for space launch capability. They could have easily developed a ride-share program for the Omega-A.
In the future, we will see more and more New Space startups that will be focused on dedicated ride and ride-share programs. Competition is good for market development.
All rockets are built around their power plants and with companies like Ursa Major developing rocket engines comparable to the Merlin 1D engine from SpaceX, we should be seeing at least a handful of startups that will fill this niche in the future.
At least that is the hope.