Rocket Factory Augsburg
Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) is a New Space start-up company located in Augsburg in Germany, close to Munich. The company offers fast and flexible launch solutions for satellite constellations using a multistage rocket, RFA One, that is currently under development with the first launch scheduled late 2022.
The three-stage rocket will be 30m long and 2m in diameter and is designed to launch SmallSats and payloads up to 1,350kgs into Polar Orbit and Micro-satellites into Low Earth orbit (LEO) and Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
The rocket is designed for serial production like cars, and is supposed to use a large number of COTS (Commercial off-the-shelf) components to reduce production and launch costs. Components of the engines of the first two stages will be 3D printed. For later flights of the rocket, the first stage is to be salvaged and reused.
Rocket Factory Augsburg was founded by engineers as a spin-off of OHB, a European multinational technology corporation. headquartered in Bremen, Germany, on the belief that daily space travel would revolutionize Space Services and the way life on earth can be improved.
The company was founded in July 2018 as a spin-off of OHB SE by Jörn Spurmann (CCO), Stefan Brieschenk (COO), Hans Steiniger (CEO of MT Aerospace) and Marco Fuchs (CEO of OHB SE). Current CEO of RFA, Dr. Stefan Tweraser, joined the company in October 2021 as member of the Board.
In 2019 the German Offshore Spaceport Alliance (GOSA) was created by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). The consortium announced plans of building a mobile micro-launch platform in the North Sea that could send small satellites into orbit. RFA and rocket launch company HyImpulse and Isar Aerospace Technologies signed a letter of intent in 2020. The ship is to be 169m long and launch vehicles up to 1 tonnes and 30m long are to be able to take off from the platform.
In March 2021 RFA moved to their new headquarters in Augsburg, employing more than 150 people with more than 30 nationalities.
In April 2021 the company signed a launch contract with the Norwegian launch facility of Andøya Space, close to Tromsø in Northern Norway, for a 2022 maiden flight of the RFA One small-satellite launch vehicle. Andøya Space has provided launch services for sounding rockets since 1962 and is 90 % owned by The Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Fisheries.
On June 6th, 2021 the company successfully tested its full-scale staged combustion engine. During the 2-second test, which was carried out in Kiruna in Sweden, RFA successfully commissioned the first staged combustion engine in Western Europe.
On November 18th, 2021 RFA signed a launch agreement with Ukrainian based Lunar Research Service (LRS) to fly a research mission with the RFA ONE micro launcher into Low Earth orbit. The flight takes place end of 2022 from Andøya in Norway and will be the maiden flight of the launch vehicle.
On February 10th, 2022 the company signed an agreement for launch services by using the launch facilities from the regional spaceport in the Asia-Pacific region, Southern Launch’s Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, west of Adelaide in South Australia.
In April 2022 RFA won the second round of the Microlauncher Competition organized by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The company received an 11-million-euro financing for further development of its launch vehicle. As part of this contract RFA needs to launch 150kgs for the DLR onboard the first two RFA One flights.
In January 2023 the company signed a contract for its first mission in late 2023 to lift off from the SaxaVord Spaceport, UK’s highest point of latitude. SaxaVord was formerly known as Shetland Space Port and is located at Lamba Ness in Unst on the Shetland Islands in Scotland. RFA will have exclusive access to Launch Pad Fredo for orbital launches. The launch pad and launch stool were fully completed by the end of 2022.
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