Augsburg, Germany. Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), a start-up backed by German space technology group OHB SE, has concluded the major part of a phase 0/A project with the French space agency CNES to implement a launch site for the RFA ONE launch system on the historic Diamant launch complex in Kourou, French Guiana. RFA had previously announced to establish a launch site for a micro launcher together with Norwegian company Andøya Space, on the island of Andøya, which is to provide launch services for small satellites from 2022.
"The agreement between our companies not only expands RFA's launch service portfolio, but also offers our customers the possibility to launch payloads into various different orbits from European territory. In this respect, the launch site in Kourou is unique," said Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer at RFA.
RFA is supported by space technology company OHB SE and Munich-based venture capital firm Apollo Capital Partners as strategic investors. The company is currently developing a launcher system called RFA ONE with a payload capacity of 1.5 tons. The launcher is intended to place small satellites in a low Earth orbit from Europe. The first launch is planned for 2022. RFA has recently qualified the tank system of the upper stage of the launch vehicle in cryogenic tests and is currently preparing hot fire tests of the main engine in Esrange, Sweden.
Covering an area of 700 square kilometres and with three operational launch complexes, the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) in Kourou is the cradle of Europe's launchers. Since 2011, it has also been a base for the Russian Soyuz. CNES is currently in the process of reconstructing the ELA-4 launch complex in preparation for Europe's Ariane 6 launcher and is investing to accommodate future launch vehicles, notably reusable and micro launchers. 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 renown of the CSG as the most effective space launch base in the world is a key asset in this respect.
Since its founding in August 2018, RFA has assembled a team of 75 (as of September 2020) new space veterans from twenty different nations and is developing a 1.5 ton payload class launch vehicle. A turbopump prototype has been developed from scratch and has passed first successful tests in mid 2019. The qualification of the upper stage tank under cryogenic conditions was successfully completed in early 2020. At the moment, an engine test facility is being set up in Sweden, where hot fire tests of an internal combustion engine with staged combustion are to be carried out from September 2020. By autumn 2020, the launch vehicle's avionics system will also be ready for initial tests. As all system developments are carried out in parallel, RFA is pleased to present the status of the upcoming integrated staged test next year.
Further information can be found at: www.rfa.space
Founded in 1961, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) is the government agency responsible for shaping and implementing France's space policy in Europe. Its task is to invent the space systems of the future, bring space technologies to maturity and guarantee France's independent access to space. CNES is a pivotal player in Europe's space programme, and a major source of initiatives and proposals that aim to maintain France and Europe's competitive edge. It conceives and executes space programmes with its partners in the scientific community and industry, and is closely involved in many international cooperation programmes--the key to any far-reaching space policy. The agency's more-than 2,400-strong workforce constitutes an exceptional pool of talent, with some 1,800 engineers and executives, 35% of whom are women. Through its ability to innovate and its forward-looking vision, CNES is helping to foster new technologies that will benefit society as a whole.