The European Space Agency or ESA had been planning to boost commercial initiatives that offer space transportation services to space for quite some time. They have finally bagged in commercial space transportation contracts from three European economic operators. These companies aim to launch new services using small launch vehicles to serve the growing small satellite market.
All of these contracts were signed under ESA’s commercial space transportation initiative, Boost! As mentioned before, ESA aimed to offer space transportation services to space, in space, and returning from space by enhancing their commercial initiatives.
Hence, they introduced Boost! to nurture industrial entrepreneurship and stimulates growth and competitiveness within the privately led and funded space sector within Europe.
Boost! also supports the ESA Member States in implementing national space transportation objectives in the field of spaceports, testing facilities, and associated services. Not too long ago in April 2020, this program was adopted at Space 19+ and went ahead setting up an ‘open call’ for proposals from European commercial entities for new services in the domain of space transportation.
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Finally, on November 3rd, ESA signed its first Boost contracts with three German New Space companies: HyImpulse Technologies, Isar Aerospace Technologies, and Rocket Factory Augsburg. Reportedly, the companies are going to offer new launch services using small launch vehicles to serve the growing small satellite market soon.
Thilo Kranz, the ESA Commercial Space Transportation Programme Manager said:
It is great to see this high level of entrepreneurship in Germany, targeting new commercial launch services for small payloads. Boost! offers tailored support at the pre-commercial phase to help these companies to succeed with their business and technical objectives.
How to Boost! Aims to support the European economic operators?
It is certainly clear that with ESA’s Boost! the under contract companies will benefit a lot. But how? Firstly, Boost! will help them in multiple domains like supporting them to preliminary solutions, manufacturing, and testing in different stages, developing vehicle line support, etc.
HyImpulse Technologies, based in Neuenstadtam Kocher in Southern Germany, is developing a three-stage small launcher. Their launch vehicle SL1 will be powered by green hybrid propulsion technology, using liquid oxygen and paraffin as propellants.
Meanwhile, the Boost! ‘HyImpulse SL1 Launch Service Development Support’ will help the company finalize preliminary design solutions and verification plans for all key systems of the launch system and support the development of associated ground support equipment, including critical subsystems testing.
Isar Aerospace Technologies, based in Munich, will initially be supported by ESA’s Business Incubation Centre Bavaria. They are developing a two-stage launch vehicle called Spectrum to serve the small satellite market.
The ‘Spectrum Launch Service Development Support’ contract will cover measures to advance the rocket’s ‘Reaction Control System.’ It will also support the definition and build-up of the launch vehicle manufacturing line at the Isar Aerospace premises in Ottobrunn.
Rocket Factory Augsburg is supported by the German satellite manufacturer OHB and Munich-based venture capital firm Apollo Capital Partners.
They are developing a three-stage launcher system equipped with an orbital stage, and their vehicle RFA ONE will use state-of-the-art staged-combustion engine technology for its main propulsion systems. Boost! will support the ‘RFA One Launch Service Development Support’ contract with the detailed design, manufacturing, and testing of its first stage demonstrator.
ESA looks forward to supporting the companies “in achieving their ambitious objectives, fostering diversification and competitiveness of the European space transportation sector”. Boost! aims to cover their activities between Q2 2020 until Q4 2022. Though its next key submission date via the Open call for proposals is on 22 November, it is willing to accept proposals at any time.