Rocket Factory Augsburg

RFA ONE's maiden flight launching from SaxaVord Spaceport

This Space News was published on Fri, 13.01.2023 – 13:16 CET, covering Rocket Factory Augsburg

Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) and SaxaVord Spaceport (UK) have announced their partnership for launch operations. According to the agreement, RFA will have exclusive access to the Fredo launch pad in the Shetland Islands. The Augsburg-based company thus secures the possibility of orbital launches of the RFA ONE microlauncher.

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The first launch of an RFA ONE is already planned for the end of 2023. Due to the lack of launch opportunities in Germany, there has long been speculation about where the microlaunchers should take off in the future. Among other things, a floating platform in the North Sea is being discussed, but recently it has been rather quiet about the German Offshore Spaceport Alliance. The recently opened Esrange Spaceport (Sweden) north of the Arctic Circle also seemed likely. But now the first launch of an RFA ONE is to take place from the northernmost point of Great Britain. The Shetland Islands, which belong to Scotland, lie between Norway, Scotland and the Faroe Islands in the North Sea and North Atlantic.

SaxaVord – The "NewSpace Spaceport"

Location of the SaxaVord Spaceport from which RFA plans to launch its microlaunchers, Google Maps visualization

From SaxaVord Spaceport, payloads will be launched into both polar and sun-synchronous orbits. In addition to launches, tests and qualification of the core stages of RFA ONE will also take place. These are expected to begin as early as mid-2023. The launch facility was not completed until late 2022.

In the future, the operators of the spaceport not only want to impress with their up to three launch facilities, but also to arouse enthusiasm for STEM subjects, among other things. To this end, they plan to cooperate with the ESA and the UK Space Agency, create an environment for space research and draw attention to the issue of sustainability.

Maiden flight of RFA ONE with seven payloads

The maiden flight of the RFA ONE is currently planned for the end of 2023 and will take place in a sun-synchronous orbit (500 km). In accordance with the specifications from the Microlauncher Competition, Rocket Factory Augsburg is required to deliver payloads into space on this flight. RFA and the German Aerospace Center DLR announced who received one of the limited seats on Dec. 6, 2022. A jury selected the following seven payloads from all applicants:

  1. AllBertEinStein (TU München)
  2. ARTICA (SPACEMIND (NPC – New Production Concept SRL))
  3. Separation Ring Mission (SPACEMIND (NPC – New Production Concept SRL)
  4. Curium Two (Planetary Transportation Systems)
  5. ERMINAZ (AMSAT-Deutschland e.V.)
  6. PCIOD (DCubed)
  7. SpaceDREAM (Kinetic Space)

According to Rocket Factory Augsburg, the multi-year partnership also provides for investments in the double-digit million range.

Header Image Credit: Rocket Factory Augsburg
Written by M. Weissflog

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