In a 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Cedar Park, engineers, designers and scientists with Firefly Aerospace are working on rockets that they hope to send into space by next year. 

To coincide with their booth at South by Southwest this week, the company conducted a live demo of its “Lightning” rocket engine at its test site in Briggs, which is in Burnet County. 

The company is building rockets for the small-satellite market. 

“We build top to bottom, we build the whole thing,” said Tom Markusic, founder and CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “We build all of our tanks, skirts, everything, we are vertically integrated.”

With space exploration being driven by the private sector, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, companies like Firefly Aerospace are filling the need for customers searching for a “reliable, cost effective launch service.” 

For many attendees at SXSW, they weren’t even aware that there was a local company building small rockets.

“Working here in Central Texas is great because we have our own facilities, we have our engineering production and test all here, and it allows us to do everything we need to get our designs ready to come to space,” Markusic said.

Markusic hopes to start launching in 2019 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.