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RFA completes hot fire upper stage full duration, European first

RFA completes hot fire upper stage full duration, European first

Posted Date: 2023-06-09

RFA completes full duration upper stage hot fire, European first

It says this marks a completion of an Integrated System Tests (IST) campaign, in which a staged combustion Helix engine was installed into an upper-stage tank system and hot-fired several times until the full duration of the final test.

Specifically, 280 seconds – roughly four and half minutes – of steady-state combustion proved the functionality of all upper stage systems, including fueling processes, fuel management, pressurization, sensors, propulsion and control. The company claims that valuable data was collected to further optimize the engine and stage. It will now focus on assembling the first stage and continuing construction on the launch pad.

The testing was conducted at the Esrange Space Center located in Sweden. This is apparently the first time a privately developed upper combustion stage has been hot fired successfully in Europe.

“This successful test is a massive leap forward for us,” said Dr. Stefan Tweraser, the CEO of RFA. “It’s a full confirmation of our strategy to develop a small launcher that is both very powerful and achieves cost-leadership. With this full duration test we have demonstrated again that we are able to complete more milestones with less, but smarter investments than any of our competitors.”

SaxaVord Spaceport

RFA has chosen the SaxaVord Spaceport in the Shetland islands as the location for its initial launch. The two organisations announced their multi-year launch operation partnership at the beginning the year.

RFA will be granted exclusive access to Launch Pad Fredo by the parties of the agreement for orbital launches. It also includes “investments in the double-digit million pound range”, said the parties.

The German startup is developing a three-stage RFA One orbital launch vehicle and the spaceport – located on the Lamba Ness peninsula site in Unst – will be hosting its debut launch, which is currently planned for the end of 2023.

Spaceport Esrange

RFA completes full duration upper stage hot fire, European firstSpaceport Esrange was officially inaugurated in Sweden on January 20, 2023 as an orbital launch facility. It already hosted rocket testbeds and high altitude balloon research, as well a civilian satellite groundstation.

Described as a "polar gateway to space", the location is Kiruna in the very north of Sweden, which is above the Arctic Circle (68°N, 21°E) and has access to a vast, unpopulated impact and recovery area.

See also: RFA One gets Boost! Commercial space transportation