Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Watch Out Ariane: "A German rocket startup seeks to disrupt the European launch industry"

No Peenemünde though, okay?

From Ars Technica:
“For our customers, it's a pain to go to Russia, the United States, or India.”
Some space entrepreneurs in Germany believe that the European launch industry—which principally consists of the state-backed Arianespace corporation—is ripe for disruption.

The industry, they say, mirrors that of the United States more than a decade ago, before SpaceX emerged onto the scene and began to disrupt the near-monopoly held by United Launch Alliance. SpaceX successfully launched its first Falcon 1 rocket in 2008, and the company followed that with the Falcon 9 booster less than two years later. Since then, it has forced competitors to innovate and put downward pressure on launch prices.

"Europe is where the US launch industry was 15 years ago," said Daniel Metzler, co-founder and chief executive of the Munich-based Isar Aerospace rocket company, in an interview.
If the company's attitude seems a bit brash, seeking to challenge the existing order of the European launch industry, perhaps it is not surprising given the company's advisors. They are led by Bulent Altan, an aerospace engineer who joined SpaceX in 2004 out of Stanford University. Atlan played a key role in the development of the avionics system that guided the Falcon 1 and later Falcon 9 rockets in flight. And he spent his pre-college years in Germany.

Founded in 2018 by a group of recent engineering graduates who had participated in a rocket research group, plus a few students still in school, Isar chose to focus first on developing an engine. Named Aquila, the engine is fueled by propane and liquid oxygen, and nine of these engines will power the first stage of the company's "Spectrum" rocket.

With this booster, Isar intends to launch up to 1,000kg to low-Earth orbit. It has not set a price per launch, but it is targeting a competitive price point of 10,000 Euros ($11,700) per kg....