Rocket Factory Augsburg and SaxaVord Spaceport Partner For Launches

16th Jan 2023
Rocket Factory Augsburg and SaxaVord Spaceport Partner For Launches

Rocket Factory Augsburg and SaxaVord Spaceport have announced a multi-year partnership deal. The German space company will launch from the spaceport as early as 2023.

SaxaVord Spaceport (SaxaVord) has been a key player in the UK’s own race to send a rocket into space. The launch facility is located in Shetland, at the northernmost point in the whole of the UK. The port is well equipped for launch operations as well as data analysis during orbit. SaxaVord is endorsed by the UK Space Agency’s (UKSA) Sceptre Report. It is also partnering with companies such as RFA, and it will be home of the UKSA’s UK Pathfinder launch.

As part of the new partnership, Rocket Factory Augsburg will have access to the Launch Pad Fredo on site. Moreover, RFA can begin to prepare for its RFA ONE launch which is expected by the end of the year. RFA ONE is a three-stage rocket designed to launch small satellites. It can send payloads up to 1,350 kg into polar orbit.

The deal is said to be worth over £10 million in investments and fees. Shetland’s spaceport appears to be the perfect fit, having completed its build towards the end of 2022. The RFA launch will be the first vertical launch from UK soil. 

Rocket Factory Augsburg testing and launch

The launch pad and stool will also be used for RFA ONE tests, which should begin in mid 2023. The company has made some impressive innovation. For example, it is the first European company to successfully test a staged combustion engine. With such engines, propellant flows through multiple combustion chambers for exceptional fuel efficiency.

Jörn Spurmann, CCO of the German space company, spoke about what this partnership would mean for both parties:.

“We are super excited to launch our first flight from SaxaVord. This partnership of privately financed companies enables the spirit and speed that we need, to be on top of the commercial small launch competition,

 “The SaxaVord team was incredibly determined to build our launch pad and get the operations up and running. We are proud to be part of this historic event for the UK having built the first launch pad in mainland Europe. We firmly believe in the UK’s strategic space vision and are absolutely convinced that the double-digit million investment in the site is well placed on our part.”

Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport said: “We’re delighted to kick off the New Year by announcing our partnership with RFA. We will support RFA across the entire lifecycle of a launch, from facilitating testing, inspections, fueling and safety, to supplying MET weather data and access to our ground station network for data capture and distribution. The entire team cannot wait to welcome RFA and work closely as we edge closer to the UK’s first vertical space launch in Unst.”

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