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Rocket Factory Augsburg signs further launch contracts

(27 April 2021 - Rocket Factory Augsberg) OHB Cosmos International Launch Services and LuxSpace haveh signed a contract for a dedicated launch with Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) for upcoming missions scheduled for mid-2024 and 2025.

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(courtesy: RFA)

“OHB Cosmos and Rocket Factory share a common philosophy to provide the most customer-centric service at the lowest possible prices. OHB Cosmos with its extensive experience in launching satellites manufactured by the OHB group for its commercial and institutional customers, has now found its perfect match with RFA and its RFA ONE launch vehicle.” says Lutz Bertling, Chief Strategy & Development Officer at OHB. “Launching with a German-based launch provider simplifies and speeds up the whole process of launching payloads into orbit. We want to offer the most reliable and fastest launch service to our customers and are convinced that RFA will play a key role in improving the launch experience for our customers.”

“Signing with OHB Cosmos and LuxSpace demonstrates the competitiveness of RFA ONE”, says Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer at RFA. “We are particularly proud that both companies picked RFA ONE over the numerous launch service providers they have previously been working with. Launching European-built spacecraft with a launch vehicle developed in Germany marks a significant milestone for Europe in its way to achieve independent access to space that secures prosperity for the next generations by fostering innovation and technological progress.”

OHB Cosmos is the launch service provider of the OHB group. The company features a proven track record of organizing and conducting launches for institutional and commercial customers. OHB Cosmos is trusted by governments and institutions around the world and has launched all of the German Bundeswehr’s SAR-Lupe satellites. Recently, OHB Cosmos demonstrated its capabilities to conduct responsive launches. In January 2021, the company launched a customer’s spacecraft within a seven-month timeline. This marked a novelty on the commercial satellite launch market.

LuxSpace is the small satellite platforms expert of the OHB group and a provider of integrated applications and services. The company boosts a heritage in delivering microsatellite solutions for both global institutional and commercial customers, including the recently launched ESAIL satellite, powered by LuxSpace’s Triton-2 platform and developed in collaboration with the European Space Agency and exactEarth. ESAIL broke records in February 2021 by capturing two million AIS messages from ships at sea in a single day.

Rocket Factory, a start-up backed by the German satellite maker OHB as a strategic investor and Venture Capital firm Apollo Capital Partners, is currently developing a launcher system called RFA One for small satellites with a payload performance of up to 1300kg to low earth orbit (LEO). The first launch is scheduled for the end of 2022. The company recently qualified the upper stage tank system during cryogenic tests and currently is running a test campaign to hot-fire the main engine in Esrange, Sweden.

“Through its one-of-a-kind orbital stage, RFA ONE offers unrivalled in-orbit flexibility and injection accuracy, which is exactly what our customers demand for their very specific and critical missions.”, states Prof. Dr. Indulis Kalnins, Managing Director at OHB Cosmos. “Our intention with this contract is to secure a launch opportunity for one of our customers’ planned launches in 2024. This launch agreement allows us to cater to all our customers’ requirements at the best possible price point.”

Dr. Stefan Brieschenk, Chief Operating Officer at RFA, adds: “We are super excited to see RFA ONE entering into service with OHB Cosmos and LuxSpace. The RFA ONE launch system combines the most competitive payload capacity within its class with a disruptively low launch price. This is possible only by employing the most efficient propulsion technology available today: staged combustion. In addition to that, RFA ONE features a unique orbital stage to precisely position our customers’ payloads in their target orbits through additional on-orbit maneuvers, including inclination- and RAAN changes.”

“LuxSpace enables the space ambitions of business leaders and institutions requiring reliable platforms and integrated services to successfully fulfil their mission’s objectives. RFA ONE, through its one-of-a-kind orbital stage offers us the injection accuracy we are looking for to serve our customers. We are convinced that this launch service will set the bar for all missions to follow and are excited to partner with them”, says Edgar Milic, Chief Executive Officer at LuxSpace.

RFA is at the forefront of the global new-space launch vehicle development, with its state-of-the-art staged-combustion engine technology. This high-performance engine technology, coupled to lowest-possible-cost production techniques, is essentially new to Europe, and through the support of OHB, RFA managed to acquire key technologies and key talent that will propel the business case of the RFA One launch vehicle to allow it to compete on a global scale. Recent firing tests have demonstrated that RFA is on a winning path to resolve Europe’s most efficient and most powerful rocket engine technology. Recently, RFA won the first round of the German micro-launcher competition of the German Space Agency DLR, which granted RFA with a letter of support to receive 500.000 € of funding within ESA’s Boost! programme. In the next round of the competition, DLR and ESA will award a launch contract worth 11.000.000 € for institutional payloads.

About OHB Cosmos

OHB Cosmos is the launch service provider of the OHB group with more than 20 years of international experience in bringing satellites into their intended orbits. We are responsible for launching the spacecraft built by the group’s satellite manufacturers based in Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden. Usually the capacity of the launch vehicle is not fully utilized by the main payloads. This further capacity is offered by OHB COSMOS to satellite operators and manufacturers around the world as Rideshare Launch Service at a very attractive price and in excellent quality. Our portfolio also includes a wide range of well-founded technical support such as the integration of various satellites on a launcher or custom-made adapter, deployer and dispenser or even fairing modifications.

About LuxSpace

Founded in 2004 as a daughter company of OHB SE and with headquarters in Betzdorf, Luxembourg, LuxSpace is provider of the innovative and reliable Triton microsatellites product line, which includes the recently launched record-setting ESAIL AIS satellite, powered by LuxSpace’s Triton-2 platform, and the new highly scalable Triton-X platform. LuxSpace further complements its portfolio with integrated application and data services, successfully enabling the missions of institutional and commercial customers.

About Rocket Factory

Rocket Factory was founded in 2018 by Jörn Spurmann and Stefan Brieschenk, investor Hans Steininger and German aerospace company OHB SE. The start-up’s goal is to develop a launch vehicle prototype by the end of 2022 that can transport satellites to low-Earth orbits on a weekly basis at unrivalled prices. Rocket Factory is aiming for exponential growth in the booming New Space market. The start-up’s goal is to combine maximum performance with extremely cost-effective manufacturing processes and design principles. The experts plan the concept of the rocket from the perspective of the satellites and the customers: Rocket Factory will precisely launch satellites into the desired orbits using a unique orbital stage. The launcher will thus provide an end-to-end delivery service for the last mile. The launcher combines three key competitive advantages: a highly cost-effective architecture, precise in-orbit delivery and superior propulsion technology. The startup employs a team of 85 (as of April 2021) New Space experts from 25 different countries in Augsburg, Germany, who have previous experience in other launcher projects.