Exolaunch has signed a wide-ranging MOU with Germany-based launch service provider, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), to provide end-to-end launch services for smallsats, with Exolaunch procuring launch capacities from RFA.
Exolaunch provides launch services, mission management, and smallsat deployment systems, whose customers include startups, universities, scientific institutions, and space agencies from around the world. Since 2017, Exolaunch has helped launch nearly 100 smallsats into orbit, with 50 additional smallsats to be launched before the end of 2020.
Rocket Factory, a start-up backed by the German satellite maker OHB as a strategic investor and Venture Capital firm Apollo Capital Partners, currently is developing a launcher system called RFA One for small satellites with a payload performance of up to 300kg to low earth orbit (LEO). The first launch is scheduled for 2022. The company recently qualified the upper stage tank system during cryogenic tests and currently is preparing hot-fire tests of the main engine in Esrange, Sweden.
RFA is engaged in global, new-space, launch vehicle development, with their state-of-the-art staged-combustion engine technology. This high-performance engine technology, coupled to lowest-possible-cost production techniques, is essentially new to Europe, and through the support of OHB, RFA managed to acquire key technologies and key talent that will propel the business case of the RFA One launch vehicle to allow it to compete on a global scale.
Recently, RFA won the first round of the German micro-launcher competition of the German Space Agency DLR, which granted RFA with a letter of support to receive 500.000 € of funding within ESA’s C-STS program. In the next round of the competition, DLR and ESA will award a launch contract worth 11,000,000 euros for institutional payloads.
“Exolaunch and Rocket Factory share a common mission that places the customer at the center of every launch service experience,” said Jeanne Medvedeva, Commercial Director at Exolaunch. “The agreement between our companies not only expands access to commercial space opportunities, but also reinforces Germany’s leadership position in the space industry in Europe and beyond.”
“RFA is looking forward to launching the first RFA One vehicle, using separation and payload deployment systems supplied by Exolaunch. We are optimistic that this partnership will generate a win-win situation for all parties involved, in particular our customers,” said Dr. Stefan Brieschenk, Chief Operations Officer at RFA. “This marks the beginning of a new era, where the space domain is transformed into a commercial market in Europe.”