Rocket Factory Augsburg, a start-up backed by the German satellite manufacturer OHB as a strategic investor, has inaugurated its test site in Esrange, Sweden, to conduct the first hot fire tests for the RFA ONE staged combustion main engine later this year.
This marks a significant milestone in the development of RFA ONE launch vehicle. With a payload capacity of up to 1350 kg into polar orbit, the two-staged micro launcher plus orbital stage is the first commercial vehicle equipped with engines using the staged combustion. This high-performance engine design, coupled to lowest-possible-cost production techniques, is essentially new to Europe and demonstrates that RFA is on a winning path to establishing Europe’s most efficient and most powerful rocket engine technology. This is leads to significant improvements in payload performance along with the capability to deploy whole constellations at once.
The test site was inaugurated together with two Swedish Ministers on October 14th. In addition to this, the North European Test Range (NEAT), where also Esrange Space Center is located, is a co-operation of the Swedish Space Corporation as well as the Swedish Defense Material Administration. RFA stated the company is thankful for Swedish space co-operation and for its partners to be able to complete this vital step on the journey for its maiden flight in 2022.
RFA offers a state-of-the-art, staged, combustion engine technology. Recently, the company 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 euros 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 € for institutional payloads
“We are proud of this new milestone which brings new capability for European space companies to test new technologies, such as reusable, multi-stage rockets and new sustainable fuels. RFA is a very appreciated customer and we are looking forward to many years of ground-breaking co-operation to develop next generation European space technology together,” said Lennart Poromaa, site manager at Esrange.
“Together we are writing European history in the field of commercial aerospace.” said Stefan Brieschenk, Chief Operations Officer at RFA.
“While the Esrange test site offers the perfect facilities and infrastructure for us, they also share the same hands-on spirit as RFA. To work together for a common goal is the essence of our operations, and we are all very passionate about what we do,” said Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer at RFA
Andøya Space is developing the new launch complex on Andøya island, 35 km south of their existing sub-orbital launch site. This new site will provide operators of vehicles in the 1.5t payload class with independent integration facilities and access to two launch pads with necessary support infrastructure.
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.
“This partnership is pivotal, it allows RFA and Andøya to launch the first satellite into orbit from continental Europe with an European launcher,” said Dr. Stefan Brieschenk, Chief Operation Officer of RFA.
Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer of RFA, added, “Andøya Space is the most advanced micro launcher spaceport project in Europe. We believe to have found the best partner to start with the delivery of our end to end launch service to our customers in 2022.”
“We are convinced that Rocket Factory is one of the most progressive SSLV companies in Europe. Having them commit to Andøya Space as a partner is of great significance to us. We are developing an efficient multi-user launch site in Norway, and Rocket Factory has the technical capabilities, the same innovative culture, and the enthusiastic team we need in a partner to help us take the spaceport initiative forward. We look forward to supporting them in their missions to polar- and sun synchronous orbits,” said Odd Roger Enoksen, CEO and President of Andøya Space.