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Rocket Factory Augsburg Signs Agreement with Andøya Space for Maiden Flight

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
September 29, 2020
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RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

AUGSBURG, Germany — Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), a participation of space technology company OHB SE, will be establishing a launch site for a micro launcher together with Norwegian company Andøya Space. The two partners have now signed a letter of intent to this effect. The site is to provide launch services for small satellites from 2022.

“This partnership is of key importance as it will enable RFA and Andøya Space to launch the first satellite from continental Europe on a European launch vehicle,” said Dr. Stefan Brieschenk, Chief Operation Officer of RFA.

Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer of RFA, added: “We are convinced that with Andøya Space we have found the best partner to offer our customers our end-to-end launch service from 2022 onwards”.

Andøya Space is building the new launch complex on the island of Andøya, 35 kilometres south of the existing launch site for suborbital flights. This new site will provide independent integration facilities and access to two launch pads with the necessary support infrastructure for operators of launchers in the 1.5 ton payload class.

RFA is supported by space technology company OHB SE and Munich-based venture capital firm Apollo Capital Partners as strategic investors. The company is currently developing a launcher system called RFA ONE with a payload capacity of 1.5 tons. The launcher is intended to place small satellites in a low earth orbit from Europe.

The first launch is planned for 2022. RFA has recently qualified the tank system of the upper stage of the launch vehicle in cryogenic tests and is currently preparing hot fire tests of the main engine in Esrange, Sweden.

“We are convinced that Rocket Factory Augsburg is one of the most advanced small satellite launch vehicle companies in Europe. Having them commit to Andøya Space as a partner is of great significance to us. RFA has the technical capabilities, innovative culture and enthusiastic team that we need in a partner to move our project forward. We look forward to supporting them in their missions into polar and sun-synchronous orbits,” says Odd Roger Enoksen, CEO and President of Andøya Space.

About RFA

Since its founding in August 2018, RFA has assembled a team of 75 (as of September 2020) new space veterans from twenty different nations and is developing a 1.5 ton payload class launch vehicle. A turbopump prototype has been developed from scratch and has passed first successful tests in mid 2019. The qualification of the upper stage tank under cryogenic conditions was successfully completed in early 2020. At the moment, an engine test facility is being set up in Sweden, where hot fire tests of an internal combustion engine with staged combustion are to be carried out from September 2020. By autumn 2020, the launch vehicle’s avionics system will also be ready for initial tests. As all system developments are carried out in parallel, RFA is pleased to present the status of the upcoming integrated staged test next year.

Further information can be found at:

About ASC

Andøya Space has 58 years of experience in suborbital rocket operations for upper atmosphere exploration. The company also conducts rocket tests, provides training and flight certification for UAV operations and has capacity for scientific balloon operations and ground-based ionosphere observation facilities. Andøya Space is owned by the Norwegian government (90%) and Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace. The company received full support from the Norwegian Parliament and its owners for the construction of the spaceport in June.

Further information can be found at:

2 responses to “Rocket Factory Augsburg Signs Agreement with Andøya Space for Maiden Flight”

  1. AndrewZ says:

    I suspect that the market for small satellite launches is going to become highly fragmented along geographical lines, with lots of small-to-medium operators who are successful in a particular country or region but struggle to expand beyond it.

    One reason is that their customers will include relatively small companies and government agencies operating on a limited budget who will be sensitive to the cost and difficulty of shipping their payload overseas for launch.

    The other reason is that many governments will quickly see the advantages of having a domestic launch provider which can be used to put communications or reconnaissance satellites into orbit without moving any classified equipment out of the country or giving warning of their intentions. As a result, some launch providers will become the space equivalent of “flag carriers” in the airline industry, enjoying a special status and preferential treatment in their home country.

    • duheagle says:

      I would modify your general observation only in terms of geographical limitations. There are a number of European countries in which smallsat launcher start-ups are situated but whose physical geography precludes launching from national soil. Germany is one of these and Spain is another. I’m sure a bit of research would turn up others. But I don’t think Norway has any homegrown smallsat launch start-ups.

      However Norway has suitable geography for high-inclination (polar and SSO) launches directly north from Andoya island, both orbital regimes accounting for large percentages of smallsat destinations. The only downrange – or perhaps I should say uprange – land masses of consequence are also Norwegian territory and either uninhabited or sparsely inhabited. Andoya has no suitable azimuths for equatorial launches or, indeed, for anything even well into the mid-inclination range owing to Russian territory lying eastward. But, given that the new Andoya orbital spaceport is being designed to handle smallsat launchers as large as the Firefly Alpha or the Relativity Space Terran 1, I can easily see Andoya becoming quite busy a few years hence hosting smallsat launches by vehicles of that size or smaller from smallsat launch companies all over Europe.

      Given that the U.K. is no longer part of the EU, nascent British smallsat launcher firms will probably launch from sites like the new spaceport just authorized in northern Scotland.

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