Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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The Best Laid Plans: Europe’s Ambitious Launch Year Goes Awry Due to International Tensions, Schedule Delays

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET on 25 December 2021 on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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Second Round of Microlauncher Payload Competition Kicks Off

The German Space Agency’s micro-launcher competition at DLR. [Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)]
  • 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.

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RFA Wins 11 Million Euros in the DLR Microlauncher Competition

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

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.

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Rocket Factory Augsburg, Southern Launch Sign Agreement for Launch Facilities in Australia

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory Augsburg)

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. 

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Green Light Given for Satellite Launch Base at Andoya in Norway

Sounding rocket launch at Andoya. (Credit; Norwegian Space Agency)

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. 

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First Lunar Constellation Satellite to Travel to the Moon in 2023

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

DUBAI, UAE, 28 October 2021 (Plus Ultra Space Outpost/RFA PR) – Plus Ultra Space Outpost (Plus Ultra) and Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) have jointly signed an agreement for launching a demonstrator mission to the Moon.

RFA will launch Plus Ultra’s demonstrator mission towards the end of 2023 on the RFA ONE launch system. Plus Ultra’s first satellite will launch into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), from where it will use its own propulsion to reach lunar orbit and become the first satellite to initialise Plus Ultra’s cis-lunar constellation “Harmony”. The satellite will also be the first private orbiter with electric propulsion going to and orbiting the Moon.

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RFA Portugal is Awarded a Contract to Develop and Qualify launcher Structures with CEiiA Aiming for Series production

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

Marco Fuchs announces agreement with Pedro Siza Vieira, Minister for the Economy and Prof. Heitor, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education in Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal – April 23, 2021 – Rocket Factory Portugal LDA Unipessoal, a subsidiary of German launch service provider Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), successfully concluded the contractual negotiations to develop composite structures of its launch vehicle RFA ONE together with CEiiA, a Portuguese Engineering and Development Center based in Matosinhos, North of Portugal. The announcement took place during the event “Space in the Recovery of Portugal and Europe” in Lisbon, to be followed by a visit to the island of Santa Maria, Azores. 

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Rocket Factory Augsburg Signs Further Launch Contracts

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

AUGSBURG, Germany (RFA PR) – OHB Cosmos International Launch Services GmbH, a company of OHB SE’s newly established business segment OHB DIGITAL, as well as LuxSpace, the group’s Luxembourg-based satellite manufacturer, both signed a contract for a dedicated launch with German-based launch service provider, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), for upcoming missions scheduled for mid-2024 and 2025.

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ESA Awards Space Transportation Study Contracts with ArianeGroup, Avio & Rocket Factory Augsburg

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Space transportation technologies are intrinsically complex, some needing long development cycles of up to a decade. For this reason, ESA is seeking early insights into long-term trends and potential evolutions in all application domains taking into account the needs of future programmes currently under preparation.

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ESA Signs First Boost! Commercial Space Transportation Contracts

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has signed the first three contracts with European economic operators arising from its permanently open call for proposals for commercial space transportation services.

Boost! – ESA’s Commercial Space Transportation Services and support to Member States programme was adopted at Space19+ and an Open call for proposals  under its Element 1 was launched in April this year. Through this programme, ESA aims to stimulate and support competitiveness and new commercial European space transportation services.

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