Our Initiatives

Firefly@UT – Texas Rocket Engineering Lab

The Texas Rocket Engineering Lab (TREL) was established through a $1,000,000 commitment by Firefly Academy to UT. This commitment was made in order to help the students build the first student-built rocket to pass 100 km. The Base11 Space Challenge was announced soon after the commitment was made. The Base11 Space Challenge will award $1,000,000 to the first student team to launch a rocket to 100 km.

In addition to the financial commitment, Firefly Academy has also organized lectures, mentorship, and testing for TREL through its partnership with Firefly Aerospace. Firefly Aerospace employees lecture to TREL students regarding how to build a rocket. In addition, Firefly Academy is currently helping TREL sublease a portion of Firefly Aerospace’s test site. This lease will allow TREL students to safely test their hardware with Firefly Aerospace guidance.


Firefly Academy has provided 12 students 3-month internships with Firefly Aerospace (with most students coming from TREL). Firefly Academy hopes to expand its reach to other NewSpace companies to help place Firefly Academy participants as interns. If you would like to help us achieve this goal please contact us.

Firefly International Rocketry Event (FIRE)

The FIRE event is an annual event run by Firefly Academy hosting a model rocket competition at Firefly Aerospace’s test facility. FIRE brings model rocket teams from around the world to Texas to build and launch these model rockets. Local school students are invited to raise interest and awareness of space.


FIRE 2019 was Firefly’s first  competition. FIRE 2019 was held  on DATES.  FIRE 2019 included ___ participants from ___ countries, and ___ local students. The event was a great success with one several students expressing a newfound interest in space and a dream of working at Firefly Aerospace or SpaceX in the future.

Other Activities

Firefly Academy engages with students through various means to further STEM education. A few examples are:

  • Firefly Academy Board Member Ed Tovar and Firefly Academy Project Coordinator Uliana Biryukova participated in the “2019 Student Leadership Summit” by serving as mentors to student team leads and helping them get ready for a “Cities in Space Student Conference & Competition” that will take place in Austin in 2020.
  • Firefly Academy plans to award two scholarships to local middle school students to attend the SmallSat Space Conference in Utah in August 2020
  • Firefly Academy Board Member and Firefly Aerospace CEO Tom Markusic attended a meeting of the Texas Boy Scout Councils to present on the “Promise and Perils of New Space.” The Boy Scouts saw a demonstration of a Rocket Gun and skateboard
  • Firefly Academy Board Member Ed Tovar shows model rockets at local middle schools and hands out Firefly stickers to students who show interest in the rockets