November 16, 2022 | Test infrastructure for future space transportation

DLR and Rock­et Fac­to­ry Augs­burg sign agree­ment on the use of test in­fras­truc­ture at DLR Lam­pold­shausen

  • Construction of test position P2.4 for use by RFA at DLR’s site in Lampoldshausen.
  • As part of the agreement, RFA will test engines for the development of a micro-launcher from mid-2023..
  • At its Lampoldshausen site, DLR has test facilities for rocket engines of all sizes and types that are unique in Europe.
  • Focus: Spaceflight, rocket engines, micro-launcher, new space, technology development

Space start-ups with micro-launcher projects will be important players in European space transport in the future. So-called micro-launchers are smaller rockets that can carry payloads of up to one tonne into low Earth orbit. They complement the capabilities of the established Ariane European launcher and will accelerate the development of new business areas and technologies in the launcher market. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the start-up Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) signed an agreement on 15 November 2022 at the Space Tech Expo trade fair in Bremen to use the test infrastructure at DLR's site in Lampoldshausen. With this agreement, the RFA team aims to carry out tests on the Helix engine for the development of their micro-launcher from mid-2023. To this end, RFA will rent and use the P2.4 test position in Lampoldshausen. DLR will provide the infrastructure to supply the tests with cooling water and nitrogen, as well as the safety infrastructure and services. RFA is setting up its own test position, including the necessary supporting infrastructure.

Prepared for the future in New Space

"Start-ups are becoming increasingly important players in space as well. That's why we are delighted with the trust that Rocket Factory Augsburg has placed in us as a New Space company. We also see this cooperation as an acknowledgement of the capabilities of the existing test infrastructure and as an investment in the future," said Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, at the signing of the contract. She added: "By validating promising advanced engine concepts, we are jointly laying the foundations of Europe's commercial and cost-effective access to space."

"The space sector calls for close cooperation between industry and science to close the technology gap between research and application. DLR's large-scale research facilities are unique in Europe for testing and scaling technologies," emphasises Karsten Lemmer, DLR Executive Board member responsible for Innovation, Transfer and Research Infrastructures, "This is the only way to add value and create innovation in Germany and Europe.

"Less than a week before the ESA Ministerial Conference, this collaboration is a clear RFA location commitment to Germany and sends a strong signal to policy makers and the industry," said Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer at RFA. "The setup created with DLR is commercially very competitive on a worldwide scale and the right way to ensure the competitiveness of the German space industry in Europe and the world. We are very proud to be able to test our Helix staged combustion engine – the first in the European Union – at DLR in Lampoldshausen and are honoured by the trust placed in us as a New Space company."

The agreement underlines the long-term and sustainable use of the engine test stands available at DLR's site in Lampoldshausen for a comprehensive and competitive European launcher market. In future, the P2 test stand complex with its two additional test positions will also be made available to other start-ups from the New Space sector.

DLR Lampoldshausen – versatile test facilities for competitive launchers

The global space market is more dynamic and diverse than ever. At the same time, a significantly reduced development time is shaping today's European launcher strategy. The DLR Institute of Space Propulsion in Lampoldshausen is ideally equipped for these developments: As a European research and test facility for liquid propulsion, it offers ideal framework conditions and high-quality test facilities. These already cover the entire portfolio for engine tests of all sizes and specifications.

About Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA)

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 of up to 1300 kilograms into low Earth orbit and beyond on a weekly basis at unmatched prices. With this, RFA wants to democratise 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.


Andreas Schütz

Head of Corporate Communications, DLR Spokesperson
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-2474

Prof. Dr. Stefan Schlechtriem

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Space Propulsion
Im Langen Grund, 74239 Hardthausen