Moving forward, and making the all important decision, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), a Germany-based launch service provider, concludes the major part of phase 0/A project with CNES/CSG European Spaceport towards implementing a launch site for the RFA ONE launch system on the historic Diamant launch complex in Kourou, French Guiana.
“The agreement between our companies not only expands RFA‘s launch service portfolio to the customer, being able to launch from European territory to all inclinations offered by the unique French launch location, but also enforces a unrivaled position in the New Space industry in Europe and beyond.” said Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer at RFA.
Dr. Stefan Brieschenk, Chief Operations Officer at RFA, added, “This marks the beginning of a new era, where a team of NewSpace veterans combines the unmatched experience from launching all European orbital vehicles since 1968 for a true best-of-both-worlds setup.”
Rocket Factory, a start-up backed by the German satellite manufacturer OHB as a strategic investor and Munich-based 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 1.500kg 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 is currently preparing hot-fire tests of the main engine in Esrange, Sweden.
Covering an area of 700 sq.km and with three operational launch complexes, the Guiana Space Cente (CSG) is the cradle of Europe’s launchers and, since 2011, a base for the Russian Soyuz. CNES is in the process of building the ELA4 complex for Ariane 6 and investing to accommodate future launchers, notably reusable ones and micro launchers. It is also preparing the CSG New Generation program designed to modernize the launch base, topped by a new Operations Center where all the information required by its teams will converge. Assuring independent access to space is a strategic, political and economic choice. Europe is preparing its future launchers to keep pace in the fiercely competitive commercial space launch services market. The excellence of the Guiana Space Centre, renowned as the most effective space launch base in the world, are key assets in this respect.
RFA is at the forefront of the global new-space launch vehicle development, with its state-of-the-art staged-combustion engine technology. This high-performance engine design, coupled to lowest- possible-cost production techniques, is essentially new to Europe, and through the support of OHB, RFA has managed to acquire key technologies and key talent that will propel the business case of the RFA One launch vehicle to dominate the market on a global scale. Recent firing tests have demonstrated that RFA is on a winning path to establish Europe’s most efficient and most powerful rocket engine technology.
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 programme. In the next round of the competition, DLR and ESA will award a launch contract worth 11.000.000 € for institutional payloads.