OHB Sweden AB, subsidiary of space and technology group OHB SE, has signed a contract for a dedicated launch with Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) for an upcoming mission that is scheduled for mid-2024.
OHB Sweden is a Swedish provider of space systems and develops, builds, tests and operates satellites for different kinds of space missions within communications, EO, space research and exploration. From low-orbiting satellites via geostationary ones and all the way up to interplanetary missions. The company recently sealed the Arctic Weather Satellite (AWS) with ESA as the prime contractor, marking the beginning of OHB Sweden’s future towards small satellite constellations.
Rocket Factory, a start-up backed by the German satellite maker OHB as a strategic investor, and Venture Capital firm Apollo Capital Partners, is currently developing a launcher system called RFA One for smallsats with a payload performance of up to 1300 kg to LEO. The first launch is scheduled for the end of 2022. The company recently qualified the upper stage tank system during cryogenic tests and currently is running a test campaign to hot-fire the main engine in Esrange, Sweden.
RFA features high-performance engine technology, coupled to lowest-possible-cost production techniques, and is essentially new to Europe. Through the support of OHB, RFA managed to acquire key technologies and talent that will propel the business case of the RFA One launch vehicle to allow it to compete on a global scale.
Recent firing tests have demonstrated that RFA is on a winning path to resolve Europe’s most efficient and most powerful rocket engine technology. Recently, RFA won the first round of the German micro-launcher competition of the German Space Agency DLR, which granted RFA with a letter of support to receive 500.000 € of funding within ESA’s Boost! program. In the next round of the competition, DLR and ESA will award a launch contract worth 11,000,000 euros for institutional payloads.
“OHB Sweden and Rocket Factory share a common philosophy to provide the highest quality and reliability at the lowest possible prices. OHB Sweden with its extensive experience of over three decades in the design, development and testing of low-cost small satellite missions has found its counterpart in the launch service market,” said Benoit Mathieu, Managing Director at OHB Sweden. “We are closely following the development activities of RFA from the very beginning. The team has shown an impressive track record over the last two years and we are confident that RFA will keep this pace for the upcoming milestones. Our intention with this contract is to secure a launch slot for one of our commercial customers. This agreement allows us to be able to offer a highly integrated and cost-effective solution to our customers.”
“Signing on with your first commercial customer is always something special,” said Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer at RFA. “We are particularly proud that OHB Sweden selected our highly competitive launch service, which is a great demonstration that we achieve traction in the commercial market. Specifically, since OHB Sweden is at the forefront of NewSpace, with the quick turnaround time on the GMS-T mission launched in January, we believe that this will be the starting point of a great partnership.”
Dr. Stefan Brieschenk, Chief Operating Officer at RFA, added, “We are truly excited to provide the outstanding capabilities of the RFA ONE launch service to OHB Sweden. This marks a major milestone for future European access to space in a new environment that allows for commercial solutions that are highly cost-effective with a strong customer focus. The orbital stage of the RFA ONE vehicle can position the payloads precisely where the customer wants them to go, while providing a new dimension of flexibility that traditional launch services and solutions do not cover.”