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Rocket Factory Receives ESA Support to Develop Smallsat Launcher

By | November 3, 2020

A rendering of RFA ONE launch vehicle. Photo: RFA

German rocket developer Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) is the first company to join the European Space Agency (ESA) launch support program. RFA announced Monday that it will receive $586,000 (500,000 euros) in ESA support for the development of the first stage demonstrator of its RFA ONE launch vehicle through Boost! — ESA’s Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support (C-STS) program.

The Boost! program supports commercial initiatives that offer space transportation services to space, in space, and returning from space, and it also supports ESA member states to implement spaceports, testing facilities, and associated services.

RFA, a startup backed by the German satellite manufacturer OHB, is developing a small satellite launcher called RFA ONE set for its first launch in 2022. This project covers detailed design, manufacturing, and testing the first stage demonstrator for a proof-of-concept and final qualification toward development milestones throughout 2021.

RFA COO Stefan Brieschenk commented: “The signing of the ESA contract puts RFA at the forefront of the global New Space launch vehicle development, with its state-of-the-art orbital stage and staged-combustion engine technology. The core stage design and the high-performance staged-combustion engine, coupled with the lowest-possible-cost production techniques, are essentially new to Europe.”