(14 August 2020 – Exolaunch) Exolaunch has signed a wide-ranging MOU with Germany-based launch service provider, Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA), to provide end-to-end launch services for small satellites, with Exolaunch procuring launch capacities from RFA.
“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.”
Exolaunch is the European leader in providing launch services, mission management, and small satellite deployment systems whose customers include startups, universities, scientific institutions, and space agencies from around the world. Since 2017, Exolaunch has helped launch nearly 100 small satellites into orbit, with 50 more small satellites to be launched before the end of 2020.
(courtesy: Rocket Factory Augsburg)
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 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”.
Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer at RFA, added, “I am excited about joint missions together with Exolaunch. They lead the market in our target segment and share the same spirit: providing first-class launch services at most affordable prices and outstanding quality, in-time without delays.”
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 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. Recent firing tests have demonstrated that RFA is on a winning path to resolve 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.
Exolaunch is a rideshare launch and deployment solution provider offering regular access to space for small satellites. Its flight heritage includes the successful deployment of nearly 100 small satellites into orbit, in cooperation with launch vehicle providers worldwide. Exolaunch enables the visions of the New Space leaders, world’s most ambitious startups, research institutions, governmental organizations and space agencies. The company also designs and manufactures in-house flight-proven advanced separation systems: 12U/16U EXOpod cubesat deployers, CarboNIX shock-free separation system for microsatellites, EXObox deployment sequencers and ESPA ring multi-port adapters to deliver the best-in class integration services and deployment into orbit for small satellites.
Since its foundation in August 2018, RFA established a team of 70 (as of August 2020) New Space veterans from 20 different nationalities having a demonstrated track record from previous small launcher projects. An own turbopump prototype was developed from scratch and has undergone first successful tests mid-2019. The Upper stage tank qualification under cryogenic conditions was successfully conducted beginning 2020. At the same time an engine test site is being implemented in Sweden, which will host the hot-fire test of the RFA staged combustion engine from September 2020 onwards. On top, the avionics system test readiness will be given by fall 2020 and RFA will be happy to report about first successful hardware in the loop test results. All system developments being executed in parallel, RFA is happy to present the status of the upcoming integrated stage test next the year.