Greetings from the just completed Small Satellite conference in Utah. In this edition of SmallSat Briefs, Rocket Factory Augsburg announced another fundraising round, Spire Global won a satellite contract, a Spanish company acquired Ecliptic Enterprises, Lockheed Martin opened a new small satellite manufacturing facility, Extrotrail launched US subsidiaries, and other news from the conference.
British spaceports face competition from bases in Europe’s frozen north
While much attention has been focused on Virgin Orbit’s plan to launch from Spaceport Cornwall in England and the creation of launch facilities in Scotland, the development of new orbital spaceports in Scandinavia has largely flown under the radar. But, now one of those Nordic bases is ready for its closeup.
During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.
On Christmas Day 2021, an European Ariane 5 rocket roared off its launch pad in French Guiana with the most expensive payload the booster had ever carried, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope. The launcher performed perfectly, sending the most powerful space telescope on a journey to its final destination 1.5 million km (900 million miles) from Earth. The launch was so accurate that Webb should have sufficient propellant to perform science operations for much longer than its planned 10-year lifetime.
There was a collective sigh of relief among the European, American and Canadian scientists and engineers involved in the long-delayed program. It was a superb Christmas gift to a world suffering through the second year of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
PARIS (CNES PR) — At the end of 2021, CNES launched a call for applications to host micro and mini-launchers at the Guiana Space Center, thus expressing, in close collaboration with ESA, its desire to open the space port of Europe to new operators.
On June 20, 2022, the German Space Agency at DLR started the second round of the competition for small satellites to fly on micro-launchers developed and built in Germany.
The competition is aimed not only at European institutions, but also at start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises.
A total of three more flights will be offered by the space companies Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH and Rocket Factory Augsburg AG in 2023 and 2024.
Focus: space travel, commercialization, start-up funding
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — On June 20, 2022, the German Space Agency started the second round of the competition at DLR for a free flight of small satellites on micro-launchers developed and built in Germany. This marks the beginning of the application phase for a total of three further flights, which will be offered by the space companies Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH and Rocket Factory Augsburg AG in 2023 and 2024. This time, the competition is aimed not only at European institutions, but also at start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises.
BERLIN, Germany, April 25, 2022 (RFA PR) – Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) wins the 2022 round of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) microlauncher competition. The prize values 11 million Euros [USD $11.7 million]. As a result, the German government will be an anchor customer of RFA ONE. On each of the first two flights of RFA ONE, a payload of up to 150 kg will be placed by DLR.
SINGAPORE, 10 February 2022 (Rocket Factory Augsburg PR) – Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), Europe’s leading launch service provider, has partnered with Southern Launch, a South Australian rocket launch service provider. The partnership allows for the German launcher RFA ONE to be launched from Southern Launch’s launch sites; the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex in South Australia. Southern Launch’s orbital complex provides direct ascent into sun-synchronous and polar orbits.
OSLO, Norway (Norwegian Space Agency PR) — Andoya Space is to receive 365.6 million Norwegian kroner [US $43.4 million] from the Norwegian government to establish a launch base for small satellites at Andoya in Northern Norway.