Launch services provider Rocket Factory Augsburg AG has tested its staged combustion Helix engine for the first time for a total duration of 74 seconds. This marks the successful completion of the first test campaign of the Helix flight configuration and confirms RFA’s milestone traction towards service commercialisation.
Augsburg, Germany – 13th July 2022 – Launch service provider Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) successfully tested its Helix engine in flight configuration for a total of 74 seconds. The test campaign consisted of long-duration hot firings of 30 and 40 seconds each. This was preceded by a short test of four seconds. All three tests were conducted with the same engine, reached the desired duration, and were subsequently shut down safely.
“Helix operated perfectly for a total duration of 74 seconds– including three ignition and shut-down sequences without the need to replace any components on the engine. This first qualification campaign also included up-throttling the engine to 130% of the nominal design point for a brief period. We are truly excited that our design has proven so reliable and performant”, said Dr. Stefan Brieschenk, the company’s Chief Operating Officer. “We have enough data to focus our attention on the next milestone, the integrated systems test of the upper stage. In this test, Helix will fire for a full duration of an upper stage flight. We have just made a huge leap towards our first launch by completing this first qualification campaign of Helix”.
These tests conclude the Helix’ successful long duration hot-fire campaign in flight configuration. The campaign, which was conducted in Kiruna, Sweden, is the most important milestone in the development process to date: A total of 74 seconds of steady-state combustion demonstrated the engine’s endurance and multiple ignition capability. Valuable data was collected for further optimization of the engine, which is 100% IP from RFA. RFA will now focus on the integrated system test, starting with maintenance and expansion work on the test stand. The test is scheduled for the end of the year.
About staged combustion:
Back in July 2021, RFA became the first company in the European Union to successfully develop and test a staged combustion engine with a successful eight-second hot fire test. This made RFA the third commercial company in the world to successfully test a staged combustion rocket engine on a large scale.
The staged combustion technology is characterized by higher efficiency and performance compared to conventional open-cycle rocket engines. The partially unburned exhaust gases from the turbopump are fed into the main combustion chamber, avoiding the release of unburned fuel. Recycling the exhaust significantly increases the efficiency of the launch vehicle while reducing launch costs and minimizing CO2 emissions during rocket launches.
About Rocket Factory
Rocket Factory Augsburg was founded in 2018 with the vision to enable data generating business models in space to better monitor, protect and connect our planet Earth. Against this background, the company’s goal is to offer launch services into low Earth orbits and beyond on a weekly basis at unmatched prices. With this, RFA wants to democratize access to space and reduce the launch costs in the space industry. The RFA ONE launch service combines three key competitive advantages: A customer focused service with precise in-orbit delivery and a high degree of mission flexibility through its orbital stage; at a highly competitive price; made possible by superior staged combustion technology, low-cost structures and usage of industrial components.
Mr. Jonas Kellner
Telefon +49 821 999576-21
Rocket Factory Augsburg AG
Berliner Allee 65
Chairman of the Supervisory Board: Jean-Jacques Dordain
Board of Directors: Stefan Tweraser, Stefan Brieschenk, Jörn Spurmann
Seat of the company: Augsburg
Registry Court: AG Augsburg, HRB 34251
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