Microlaunchers to Grow Europe’s Economy

Five feasibility studies on launch services using microlaunchers in Europe, contracted within ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme in 2018, proposed solutions for economically viable and commercially self-sustaining microlaunch services. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A flourishing small satellites market is driving demand for new ways to access space. Recent industry feasibility studies backed by ESA for new microlauncher services, are creating new business opportunities.

ESA intends to strengthen European industry by fostering a globally competitive European space sector with increased industry participation in launcher development.

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PLD Space Opens Facilities at Teruel Airport

Minister Pedro Duque, Raúl Verdú and Raúl Torres, Co-founders of PLD Space, during the open ceremony. (Credit: PLD Space)

TERUEL, Spain, 26 February 2019 (PLD Space PR) — The Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, Mr. Pedro Duque Duque, the first astronaut in the history of Spain, has unveiled the PLD Space Propulsion facilities located at Teruel Airport.

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Winning Ideas for New European Space Transport Services

Spain’s PLD Space, Miura 5 microlauncher (formerly Arion 2) aims to provide dedicated launches for an emerging small satellites market in 2021.
 (Credit: PLD Space)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Imagine moving satellites to higher orbits, collecting space debris, and dedicated launches for small satellites. These are the winning entries of ESA’s call for ideas on new commercial space transportation services.

This campaign aimed to foster open innovation and offer encouragement to those with new ideas within the privately-funded space sector.

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PLD Space to Launch MIURA 1 Suborbital Rocket From “El Arenosillo” Experimentation Center

ARION1 booster (Credit: PLD Space)

ELCHE, Spain (PLD Space PR) — MIURA 1, the suborbital rocket developed by PLD Space, will be launched from “El Arenosillo” Experimentation Center (CEDEA), of INTA, during the third quarter of 2019. This technological demonstrator, whose development began in 2011, is designed to provide scientific and commercial access to space from Spain.

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DLR Developing Reusable Rocket Engine for Small Satellite Launcher

Rocket motor during hot fire test (Credit: DLR)
  • DLR researchers have developed a reusable rocket engine specifically for the launch of small satellites.
  • The rocket engine consists of two central components: a metal injector head manufactured by means of metal 3D printing and a ceramic combustion chamber.
  • Small satellites have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry.
  • Focus: space, small satellites, new manufacturing technologies, fibre ceramics

STUTTGART, Germany (DLR PR) — Whether alone or in a constellation, small satellites weighing from just a few kilograms (nanosatellites) up to several hundred kilograms (micro- and minisatellites) are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry. In the coming years, hundreds of such small satellites will be carried into Earth orbit.

As part of the EU project SMILE (Small Innovative Launcher for Europe), researchers from the Institute of Structures and Design at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a reusable rocket engine especially for launching such satellites, and have performed an initial series of successful trials on a test rig.
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ESA Microlauncher Workshop Looks at New Ways to Access Space

Microlauncher concepts (Credit: ESA)

PARIS, 16 November 2018 (ESA PR) — Access to space was in the spotlight at this week’s Φ event which followed an ESA-hosted workshop on Europe’s emerging microlaunch services held in Paris, France for industry, investors and institutions.

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PLD Space, Airborne Systems North America sign to Develop Llauncher Recovery Systems

ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit: PLD Space)

PLD Space is developing a family of recoverable launch vehicles
Airborne Systems has almost 100 years of experience in the EDLS systems

ELCHE, Spain — October 3, 2018 (PLD Space PR) — Airborne Systems has developed a parachute recovery system for PLD Space to advance the development of their recoverable launch vehicle family (ARION 1 and ARION 2). Drawing on almost 100 years of experience with the design and development of Entry, Descent and Landing Systems (EDLS), Airborne Systems provide a solution consisting of a Drogue parachute Subsystem and a Main parachute subsystem.

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PLD Space, ZARM Sign Launch Agreement for First Flight Test of ARION 1 Launcher

ARION1 booster (Credit: PLD Space)

ELCHE, Spain — October 2, 2018 (PLD Space PR) — The German Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) and PLD Space signed a Commercial Launch Service Agreement today during the 69th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany. In the first test flight of the suborbital launch vehicle ARION 1 – currently scheduled for October 2019 -, PLD Space will launch into space a payload provided by ZARM. The research centre is the first customer to sign a Commercial Launch Agreement with PLD Space for launching payloads onboard ARION 1.

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PLD SPACE Signs 25-year Concession for Rocket Engine Testing at Teruel Airport

ARION 2 booster (Credit: PLD Space)

ELCHE, Spain (PLD Space PR) — PLD Space and the Teruel Airport Consortium have signed the formalization of the concession of a 13,337 m2 space in the Teruel Airport for the company that develops launcher technology. The agreement will be in force for a period of 25 years, with the option of an additional 10-year extension.

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PLD Space Completes 17 Million Euro Funding Round

ARION1 booster (Credit: PLD Space)

ELCHE, Spain (PLD Space PR) — PLD Space, the European Microlauncher company, has closed a new funding round of 9 million euros [$10.6 million] completing its Series A round of 17 million euros [$20 million]. Among the new investors are the Spanish aeronautical company Aciturri, founded by Ginés Clemente, and the Spanish investment fund JME Venture Capital, led by José Manuel Entrecanales, CEO of Acciona, one of the largest infrastructure and renewable energy companies in Spain.

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ESA Selects Five Micro Launcher Feasibility Studies

PARIS (ESA PR) — Small satellites usually ride piggyback on larger missions but finding a suitable match is difficult because the launch date and orbit are set by the primary payload.

A microlauncher can place a small satellite typically used for Earth observation, technology demonstration, education and telecoms into low orbits, starting from the ground or from an aerial platform.

ESA has chosen five feasibility studies from industry proposing an economically viable, commercially self-sustaining microlauncher, without public funding.

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PLD Space Receives ESA Contract for ARION 2 Launcher Study

ARION 2 booster (Credit: PLD Space)

ELCHE, Spain (PLD Space PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded the project “Study on Launch Service Making Use of a Microlauncher” to the Spanish company PLD Space.

The microlauncher study, a part of the ESA’s Future Launcher Preparatory Programme, will refine the definition of the European small satellite launcher project proposed by PLD Space, named ARION 2.

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PLD Space Receives $2.4 Million for Smallsat Launcher

ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit: PLD Space)

PLD Space of Spain has received nearly 2 million euros ($2.4 million) from the European Commission to continue development of its reusable ARION 1 and ARION 2 launch vehicles.

ARION 1 is a suborbital booster that PLD Space plans to begin launching later this year.  The company said the rocket will validate 70% of the technologies required for ARION 2, which will place payloads weighing as much as 150 kg (331 lbs) into low Earth orbit.