Rocket Factory Augsburg Small Satellite Launcher – RFA One

4th Mar 2021
Rocket Factory Augsburg

Rocket Factory Augsburg  is a German company created in 2018 and is part of OHB Group, a multinational technology corporation headquartered in Bremen. RFA’s main mission is to offer a fully-integrated solution for launching payloads to calculated orbits. The company positions itself as an all-inclusive launch provider that will take care of all customer concerns from signing an agreement to its final implementation. In other words, the RFA will take your satellites, load them into its small satellite launcher, and send them to the required orbit.

Why are lightweight rockets in high demand?

This type of private launching service is in growing demand. Technology development has made it possible to reduce satellites’ size and make them more accessible to private companies, organizations, and individuals. We will soon experience a boom in CubeSat technology, and a higher demand for lightweight rockets will soon follow as small satellite launchers can ensure quick and cost-effective delivery of payloads up to one ton to calculated orbits. In contrast, heavyweight carriers with ten times greater payload capacity also call for greater launch budgets. With German meticulousness, Rocket Factory Augsburg is committed to creating a competitive RFA One small satellite launcher and related infrastructure to organize, prepare, and execute high-frequency launches.

Rocket Factory Augsburg: Rapid Ascent in just two years

In two years of the company’s existence, its staff has grown to 80 people, all of whom are professionals with space experience. Close strategic ties have been established with the aerospace company MT Aerospace, which is involved in the development of ESA Ariane 5 and 6 launch vehicles, as well as the Galileo satellite system. Besides, memoranda have been signed with the Norwegian Andoya Space and the French Guiana spaceport — facilities all European space companies and agencies use as launch sites. 

The company believes that the Norwegian spaceport is ideal for launching their small satellite launcher RFA One. It receives government subsidies, has a large security zone, and ensures the easiest possible access to polar orbits. The first launch pad of the Andoya spaceport should be ready by the end of 2021, and the second one in 2022. Once the infrastructure is ready, RFA will have the necessary facilities to carry out commercial rocket launches. In the meantime, let’s find out what makes RFA One interesting for potential customers and whether this small satellite launcher has any advantages over their nearest competitors’ carriers.

RFA One specs 

The RFA rocket will have three stages and a payload capacity of up to 1100kg into a solar-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700km.

The first stage is equipped with eight engines, each with a 500,000hp capacity and a 100kN thrust. The engines use a step-by-step combustion system, which increases rocket efficiency. Interestingly, the experience of German car companies was used to create these engines.

The second stage has a single engine and a stainless steel case, which passed a number of cryogenic tests. The third stage is made of composites used in car production and has a pneumatic separation system.

To date, no private aerospace company in the world can offer small satellite launchers with such specs and payload capacity. While German cars are rightly considered one of the best in the world, now German launchers may keep this reputation afloat and Rocket Factory Augsburg is determined to ensure just that. 

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