Announcement of signing a New Customer
BREMEN, Germany (Reuters) – A German launch firm, Rocket Factory Augsburg has acquired a new client for the initial launch of its RFA One rocket in the coming year.
The company stated on Nov. 18 that it has signed a launch contract with Ukraine’s Lunar Research Service (LRS) for the launch of a research mission at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen.
The spacecraft will be launched from Norway’s Andya spaceport on the first flight of the reusable RFA One rocket, which is scheduled for the end of 2022.
RFA inks MoU for Collaboration
RFA also inked a memorandum of understanding for collaboration with Morpheus Space during the expo. The goal was to incorporate Morpheus propulsion technology into the RFA One. Another Memorandum of Understanding was inked with Lnasa, a London-based space tech startup, regarding the latter’s reusable orbital transport vehicle, VIA.
On the RFA One, OHB has also committed to five launches per year. This included the provision of a core customer as well as a measure of mission stability. Other European contenders lack this, according to RFA COO Stefan Brieschenk.
RFA’s ability to develop its flight manifest ahead of a first launch has been questioned. According to Brieschenk, they were able to gain clients by disrupting the market with price leadership.
If we can give a launch service on a little rocket for the same relative cost as the huge rockets, then the disruption is here, he added, because the giant rocket will effectively lose all payloads.
According to Brieschenk, many rideshare firms are still in the research and development stage and aren’t concerned about the orbit. However, “the situation may not look the same in the future.” Operators may not be disregard specific orbits owing to the commercial justifications and proven technology.
One of the most difficult technological difficulties has been to create a low-cost launcher with a substantial payload capacity. This is a “huge struggle” because these two don’t usually go together. Another crucial challenge, like with other European companies and spaceports, is establishing a regulatory framework that will allow the first launch from Andya to take place.
“We aim to create the disturbance that the customer requires… “They want a smaller, more flexible rocket at the same price as the big one,” Brieschenk explains.
In the meantime, RFA has narrowed its focus and ambitions, and the coming years will reveal what role it and others will play in the burgeoning European commercial launch market.