In a giant leap for Scotland's burgeoning space industry, RFA UK (Rocket Factory Ltd.), a Scottish satellite launch company, has soared to new heights with a £3.5 million funding boost. This significant investment, granted by the UK Space Agency as part of the European Space Agency (ESA) Boost! Programme, aims to nurture innovative companies in their quest to develop groundbreaking launch technologies and bring them to market. As the UK Space Agency unveils a substantial £65 million funding commitment for the National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP), RFA UK stands as a beacon of innovation on the journey to space exploration.
With the newly secured funding, RFA UK is set to propel its ambitions by developing and operating the essential infrastructure and test equipment needed to initiate launches from the SaxaVord Spaceport in the picturesque Shetland Islands. Anticipated for Q2 2024, this momentous launch heralds a bright future for the British space sector.
In collaboration with SaxaVord Spaceport, RFA UK envisions the creation of approximately 90 skilled jobs locally when the spaceport reaches full operational capability. These roles will span spaceport operations and administration, integration, testing, and, of course, launches.
At the heart of this ambitious venture stands the awe-inspiring RFA ONE launch vehicle. Rising to a height of 30 meters and stretching 2 meters in width, this three-stage marvel possesses the power to deploy payloads of up to 1,300 kg to a 500 km polar orbit. What sets it apart are its efficient and eco-friendly Helix staged-combustion engines, stainless steel tanks, and standardized components borrowed from other industries, ensuring flexible, cost-effective, and precise transportation into orbit with its Redshift OTV.
RFA UK, a subsidiary of Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA AG), secures exclusive access to SaxaVord's 'Fredo' launch pad. Their aim is to provide a steady stream of launch services as one of the spaceport's anchor customers. RFA UK's mission is to implement and operate launch-specific systems and test equipment to support RFA AG's planned launches from SaxaVord Spaceport.
George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology, reaffirms the government's support for the commercial satellite sector and the UK's space ambitions. Matt Archer, Director of Launch at the UK Space Agency, highlights the agency's commitment to make the UK Europe's leading launch destination by 2030. Jörn Spurmann, Managing Director of RFA UK, expresses eagerness for their inaugural orbital launch and the continued confidence of the European Space Agency. Scott Hammond, SaxaVord Spaceport's deputy CEO, expresses delight at the funding awarded to their client.