Exolaunch to provide launch services for Rocket Factory Augsburg
Berlin-based rideshare solutions provider Exolaunch 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 a European leader in providing launch services, mission management, and small-satellite deployment systems. 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.
Rocket Factory, a start-up backed by the German satellite maker OHB as a strategic investor and Venture Capital firm Apollo Capital Partners, is currently developing an LEO launcher system called RFA One for small satellites with a payload performance of up to 300kg. The first launch is scheduled for 2022, and the company recently qualified the upper-stage tank system during cryogenic tests. Currently they are 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 program. In the next round of the competition, DLR and ESA will award a launch contract worth 11.000.000 € for institutional payloads.
This is Part 1 of a review of Space Resources Week 2022, the descriptive part. Part 2 may appear in a subsequent edition with the author’s more personal views on several space resource utilization topics in the context of SRW. We recently attended online the 2022 hybrid 4th edition of Space Resources Week, held in Luxembourg from May 3 to 5.