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Scotland’s rocket launch gets closer

May 3, 2024

Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) has sent the first stage of its rocket (RFA-ONE) to its Scottish launch site at SaxaVord in the Shetland Islands in readiness for its first ‘hot fire’ test.

The Augsburg, Germany-based aerospace business is very much focussed on building high-performance but low-cost rockets “in order to make space more accessible than ever before”.

RFA was established in 2018 as a spin-off from Bremen-based space technology company OHB. It was converted into a public company in 2019. It has a test and development site at Kiruna, Sweden.

Its RFA ONE three-stage rocket is designed to carry 1,300 kgs of cargo to some 500 kms altitude (or 850 kgs to Polar orbit). The 30 metre-high rocket depends on 9 Helix engines. The design will eventually allow for recovery of the first stage and the recycling of the Helix engines.

RFA will be carrying smallish satellites, mostly cubesats or smallsats and the company claims it “builds rockets just like cars” using serial production methods and with the aim of achieving low costs and with high production efficiencies.

Andrew Griffith, the UK’s minister for space-related activity, issued his own congratulation to the RFA team, saying he and the US Space Agency were counting down the remaining months to launch.

The launch date has slipped a little from Q2 2024 to “the summer of 2024” – probably in August.

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