Today and tomorrow, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck will visit three up-and-coming German space companies in southern Germany: HyImpulse Technologies GmbH, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG and Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH. All three companies are developing new launch vehicles that will be used to launch satellites into space in the future. Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, is accompanying Minister Habeck on the microlauncher tour.
"Just a few years ago, no one would have believed that you could start a rocket company in Germany and today we have three of them. High-tech startups from Germany provide important impetus for space travel in Europe", said Economic Affairs Minister Habeck ahead of the trip. "Germany and Europe need their own access to space – this is also a question of economic security. At present, Europe has no launch facilities of its own for satellites. This shows that something has to change in the European launch sector. We need more competition and private sector involvement. Private providers drive innovation, increase our resilience and ensure that government agencies can buy launch services as anchor customers in the future – and more cheaply than if they continue to do everything themselves."
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action is funding all three companies visited with a total of around 25 million euros as part of its microlauncher competition. Microlaunchers are small modern rockets that are designed to initially carry payloads in the range of 150 to about 1,000 kilogrammes into space. The aim of the funding is to promote the commercialisation of the sector, i.e. to support private launch service providers in developing their launchers and setting up their companies.
The first stop on the journey today is Neunstadt am Kocher in Baden-Württemberg, where HyImpulse Technologies GmbH has its headquarters. Here, near the largest German rocket test site in neighbouring Lampoldshausen, a team of 55 employees is currently working on the sounding rocket "SR75". This is to be followed by the "SL1" orbital rocket, which will carry payloads of up to 400 kilogrammes into space. HyImpluse is pursuing a particularly innovative approach with the main engine of its rocket: it runs on a solid fuel, i.e. paraffin (wax), which is combined with liquid oxygen.
The tour then continues to Rocket Factory Augsburg AG in Swabia (Bavaria), a spin-off of the German aerospace company OHB and its subsidiary MT Aerospace. Some 220 employees are working on the "RFA One" launcher at sites in Augsburg, Portugal and Sweden. It will be able to launch up to 1.3 tonnes of payload into space. Here, too, a special engine technology is being used: a so-called "staged combustion engine", unique within Europe, which is considered particularly fuel-efficient.
To conclude the trip, Minister Habeck will visit Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH south of Munich in Ottobrunn on Friday. A total of 300 employees are working here on the "Spectrum" rocket. This rocket will be able to launch satellites weighing up to one tonne. So far, Isar Aerospace has been able to raise about 330 million euros in private funding. This makes the company the best financed new space company in Europe.
Anna Christmann: "In the new age of space travel, it is crucial that the state acts as an anchor customer for new technologies and thus attracts private capital. In the case of the three microlauncher companies, this has been excellently done and will also be a focus of our new space strategy. We are very excited to see the first German microlauncher fly into space from a European launch site. What has also been fundamental to the success of the microlauncher start-ups so far is the promotion of young talent by the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center and by the German universities. The student groups from the latter have mainly founded these companies."