Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc. and Rocket Factory Augsburg, a German launch startup, say they’ve signed a memorandum of understanding that calls for Spaceflight’s Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles to ride on the RFA One rocket.
In an announcement made today at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris, the companies said they’re targeting mid-2024 for their first launch.
Spaceflight Inc. handles pre-launch logistics and arranges for payloads to be sent into orbit on other companies’ launch vehicles. Rocket Factory Augsburg, or RFA, joins a list of Spaceflight launch providers that also includes SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Northrop Grumman and Europe’s Arianespace consortium.
RFA, plans to launch its three-stage, 100-foot-tall rocket from facilities in French Guiana, Britain and other locales, starting in 2023. Eventually, RFA intends to conduct launches on a weekly basis.
“Having many different launch options across different price points, orbital destinations and facility locations are all very important to our savvy spacecraft developer customers,” Spaceflight CEO Curt Blake said in a news release.
Spaceflight’s Sherpa OTVs, also known as space tugs, are stand-alone spacecraft that can be deployed from their primary launch vehicles — and then send ride-along payloads into a variety of orbits. This month, SpaceX sent a Sherpa tug into orbit to test telecommunications technologies for Boeing’s Varuna program.
Other announcements from the IAC Paris meeting and elsewhere: