DLR Microlauncher Competition: Three Teams are One Round Ahead

  • Jury chaired by Thomas Jarzombek (Member of the German Bundestag), the federal government’s coordinator for aerospace, nominated HyImpulse Technologies GmbH, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG and Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH.
  • A total of 25 million euros are available for the main round of the DLR space management microlauncher competition for the development of commercial launch services into space.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Three teams are with Microlauncher competition of the DLR space management one round further.

“I am very pleased to announce the winners of the preliminary round in alphabetical order: HyImpulse Technologies from Baden-Württemberg as well as Isar Aerospace Technologies and Rocket Factory Augsburg from Bavaria”, commented jury chair Thomas Jarzombek (Member of the Bundestag), coordinator of the federal government for the aerospace industry, the decision of July 13, 2020.

“At the moment, all three applicants are ‘head to head’ on their way to their goal and have convinced us with their suggestions in technical, economic and operational terms now 500,000 euros each for the further elaboration of their concepts up to the main round of the competition in spring 2021,” Jarzombek added.

The competition supports German start-ups with a total amount of 25 million euros, which want to develop and offer launch services commercially. The three winners rely on so-called microlauncher, i.e. small and modern launch vehicles with a payload of a few hundred kilograms.

The teams from HyImpulseIsar Aerospace Technologies and the Rocket Factory Augsburg may now look forward to the necessary letter of support from DLR Space Administration, with which they can C-STS program of the European Space Agency (ESA) orders will be received. 

This funding from ESA is provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), which Germany presented at the last ESA Ministerial Council conference “Space19 +”in Seville in November 2019. 

All three SMEs were founded in 2018. HyImpulse Technologies GmbH, based in Neuenstadt am Kocher, is a DLR spin-off, relies on a 3-stage rocket with a so-called hybrid drive and currently has 40 employees.

Rocket Factory Augsburg AG is part of the OHB Group, has around 60 employees and also develops a three-stage carrier system based on liquid oxygen and kerosene.

Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH has around 70 employees, is a spin-off from the Technical University of Munich and has designed a two-stage rocket based on a drive made of a light hydrocarbon.

“With this competition and our drawing at the ESA Ministerial Council conference, we want to initiate commercial activities in the European launcher landscape, which has so far been largely determined by large companies and government development programs. SMEs are to be given a commercial and cost-effective way into the market for launch services with innovative ideas and concepts “clarifies Dr. Walther Pelzer, DLR board member for space management, the motivation.

The core task of the competition was a proposal for transport services from earth to orbit (“Earth to Orbit”) based on a micro launcher developed by the company itself. 

A prerequisite was also the willingness to allow free flight of selected non-commercial payloads from universities or research institutions with a maximum total mass of 150 kilograms each on the qualification flights. 

In the last two rounds of the competition, the winners receive funding for the final qualification phase of their carrier system, including the implementation of two demonstration flights in the period 2022-2023. 

After the preliminary round has now ended, the first winner of the competition will be determined in the course of the main round (2021), who will receive funding of eleven million euros. In the third phase (2022), the second prize is awarded, which is also endowed with eleven million euros.