German startup approves new rocket engine in fire test

German startup Rocket Factory Augsburg has successfully conducted the first of three fire tests of the Helix rocket engine , taking an important step towards a future where it must be the object of propulsion of the RFA One rocket .

According to information released by the company, the Helix engine underwent 74 seconds of simulated combustion in a test carried out north of Kiruna, Sweden , and its endurance and subsequent approval made everyone on the team very happy:

“We are delighted that our design has proven to be so reliable and performs so well,” Stefan Brieschenk, COO of the German company, said in a press release. “We’ve made tremendous progress towards our first release by completing this first Helix qualifying campaign.”

The arrival of the RFA One rocket could prove to be a game-changer for the European space program : the Rocket Factory Augsburg rocket is one of numerous projects underway to develop orbital-capable vehicles that could be used by the European space agency. ( ESA ), which recently cut ties with Russia – a consequence of the Russo-Ukrainian war – and will stop using Soyuz rockets altogether.

According to the technical specifications, the German company’s rocket will have the capacity to carry 1.6 ton of cargo to an orbit similar to that of the International Space Station ( ISS ), which flies over the Earth at 408 kilometers (km) above the surface.

The German startup’s next step will be to test the Merlin rocket engine in an integrated environment: in practice, this means one more fire test, but now coupled with a first stage of the rocket. If it passes the test, further technical evaluations will follow and, all going well, the RFA One should be ready for launch by mid-2023.

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