Mini-rockets: Germany wants to offer an alternative to SpaceX

At the end of July, the Bavarian company Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) managed to fire the engine of its RFA One rocket for the first time, in eight seconds, at the Kiruna test site in Sweden.

Its staged combustion system, used by SpaceX rockets (Elon Musk) and Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos), but not published in Europe, % de charge utile en plus”,”text”:”permet de mettre en orbite 30% de charge utile en plus”}}”>allows 30% more payload to be placed in orbitensures Jörn Spurmann, operational director of FRG.

Another young company in the sector, HyImpulse, based in Baden-Württemberg, also tested its prototype rocket engine for more than 20 seconds, in May, in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, using a gasoline based on… candle wax, should be to burn very quickly for a good performance.

Our technology is advanced enough to serve the small launcher marketsaid HyImpulse co-founder Christian Schmierer, 33.

A third actor, Isar Aerospace, near Munich, is still waiting to conduct the first test on the machine.

However, it was the best funded of the three, with a bouquet of investors including fund HV Capital, Swiss bank Lombard Odier and the Porsche SE holding company. Among others, they brought in more than 150 million euros to this start -up company run by engineers in their early thirties. Its first Spectrum rocket flight is expected in 2022.

A $ 45 billion market

These projects make Germany one of the most serious competitors in the competition opened by the announced market departure for satellites to observe the Earth and cover the Internet needs of machines or connected cars.

The market must be reached milliards de dollars d’ici 2027– dont près de 15milliards concernant les satellites de petite et de moyenne tailles”,”text”:”plus de 45milliards de dollars d’ici 2027– dont près de 15milliards concernant les satellites de petite et de moyenne tailles”}}”>over $ 45 billion by 2027 – including nearly $ 15 billion for small and medium -sized satellites ordered by private or institutional customers, provides Isar Aerospace.

The large rocket is the main bus line that drops off its passengers at the same stop, while a micro-launcher will work like a taxi, placing satellites at the exact location the customer wants.explains Christian Schmierer, owner of HyImpulse.

These satellites of several hundred kilograms are like hand luggage compared to the loads of more than 10 tons sent into space by the Ariane rocket, the spear of European space.

The smallest of them will be cm de côté pesant 1kilo et tournant à 28000km/h autour de la Terre”,”text”:”des boîtes de 10cm de côté pesant 1kilo et tournant à 28000km/h autour de la Terre”}}”>10 cm side box weighing 1 kilogram and rotating at 28,000 km/h around the Earthexplained Daniel Metzler, founding boss of Isar Aerospace.

All while aiming for lower prices: tonne de matériel pour un prix facturé de 5millions d’euros, soit 3850euros par kilo; c’est bien moins cher que la concurrence”,”text”:”À terme, nous pourrons charger 1,3tonne de matériel pour un prix facturé de 5millions d’euros, soit 3850euros par kilo; c’est bien moins cher que la concurrence”}}”>Eventually, we will be able to load 1.3 tons of material for an invoice price of 5 million euros, or 3850 euros per kilogram; it is cheaper than the competitionwe are confident in the RFA.

The future of car manufacturers

The three German companies are relying on a fleet of 20 to 40 partially reusable rockets, which will ensure dozens of take-offs each year.

Automotive subcontractors, looking for outlets as the years of production of internal combustion engines are counted, will be able to join the sector by providing rocket engine parts.

We wanted to create a Henry Ford moment for space travelassured Jörn Spurmann, in reference to the American industrialist who changed the methods of vehicle production.

But Germany is far from alone in the range of this profitable market. In addition to SpaceX, which is already putting mini-satellites into orbit and collaborating with NASA, the American company Rocket Lab is one of the pioneers and has already performed its first commercial flights.

China is also active, and Europe has half a dozen credible projects, particularly in Spain and the United Kingdom.

The question of the reliability of each economic model will be central over the next three to five yearspredicts Carla Filotico, who is associated with German consulting firm Spacetec.

In consequence a possible integration of the sector leaving some actors on the sidelines.

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