Author Topic: Isar Aerospace  (Read 45622 times)

Offline PM3

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Isar Aerospace
« on: 04/12/2019 01:21 pm »
I got to hear a short talk by one of the founders of Isar Aerospace yesterday. I didn't get to take notes and it was somewhat superficial, but I'll try to remember as much as I can:
- They have secured/are looking for the order of €100m in funding
- They started out developing engines for sale but now want to build an entire 500kg-1t launch vehicle
- Currently around 20 engineers, end of year ~50 mostly engineers, 150 needed for the first launch
- They specifically want to not do any development in the US to circumvent ITAR and be able to sell engines and technology on the world market
- One of their primary investors is a former SpaceX VP and early employee who is now helping out in sales. Between the lines he indicated they are in talks with actual customers
- They're looking at an orbital launch in 2021 from an undisclosed government-provided launch pad

There are at least two former-SpaceX anchor investors with Isar Aerospace (source):

- David Giger, former Director of Dragon Spacecraft Development and Dragon Propulsion, now VP of Launch Vehicle Development at Relativity Space

- Bulent Altan, who was at SpaceX from 2004-2014, then again from 2016-2017 in Starlink top management (source)

Quote
Altan, who was vice president of satellite mission assurance, said he had responsibilities like those of a chief engineer on Starlink, and worked on the constellation “almost to the handover of the prototypes” in 2017, before leaving to start the venture capital firm Global Space Ventures, which is currently raising funds.

Isar Aerospace was founded in March 2018 as a spin-off from "Cryosphere", which is the rocket engine department of the Munich University student's project WARR - "Wissenschaftliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Raketentechnik und Raumfahrt" - Scientific Working Group for Rocket Technology and Space Flight". Cryosphere has developed a hybrid rocket engine named "Battleship", which they claim is "Europe’s most powerful cryogenic hybrid rocket engine".

Isar Areospace's engine is called Aquila and the launcher "Spectrum". It's a gas-generator cycle engine burning "hydrocarbons" with LOX, so that's not the Cryosphere hybrid engine but a separate development.

(The company name refers to the Isar, a River in Bavaria where all those organizations are located, and where the rocket would be launched.)
« Last Edit: 04/12/2019 02:55 pm by PM3 »
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Offline Tywin

Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #1 on: 04/15/2019 02:14 am »
[
(The company name refers to the Isar, a River in Bavaria where all those organizations are located, and where the rocket would be launched.)

Very interesting, another new launcher company...well 100 millions is not a joke...

They create the most powerful engine hybrid of Europe, but they don't use in her own rocket...ummm?

Launch from Bavaria? It's that possible?

« Last Edit: 04/15/2019 02:15 am by Tywin »
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Offline niwax

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #2 on: 04/15/2019 01:23 pm »
Very interesting, another new launcher company...well 100 millions is not a joke...

Launch from Bavaria? It's that possible?
I don't think launches will be from Bavaria, he specifically mentioned being in contact with governments to secure a launch pad. There is a sounding rocket range in Norway as well as developments in the UK. Other than that the only European option I can think of is Kourou. There is also Russia and Ukraine, but neither seem easy politically. Maybe Israel.

Most likely they're following things like the Spaceport Scotland projects since they're likely to get a good deal there.
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Offline Tywin

Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #3 on: 04/15/2019 02:31 pm »
They can launch from Azores, Portugal too...
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Offline PM3

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #4 on: 04/15/2019 06:54 pm »
Umm... yes. This is a cornerstone of the Bavarian state's prestige project "Bavaria One", which I thought will take place completely in Bavaria. But of course, that state is too crowded for space launches.
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Offline ringsider

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #5 on: 04/18/2019 09:33 am »
Umm... yes. This is a cornerstone of the Bavarian state's prestige project "Bavaria One"

No it's not. If there was such a cornerstone it would be OHB's "Rocket Factory Augsburg" project which is far more credible.

But even that project is hit by the failure of the whole Bavaria One concept, which now has hardly any money allocated. They just recently announced a mere EURO 5m for these kinds of projects (plus another EURO 25m for a satellite centre) instead of the expected EURO 700m for all kinds of things including Hyperloop.

If any of these these German projects  expected that money then they have a problem. At minimum they have a delay, possibly worse.
« Last Edit: 04/18/2019 09:35 am by ringsider »

Offline PM3

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #6 on: 04/18/2019 02:06 pm »
But even that project is hit by the failure of the whole Bavaria One concept, which now has hardly any money allocated. They just recently announced a mere EURO 5m for these kinds of projects (plus another EURO 25m for a satellite centre) instead of the expected EURO 700m for all kinds of things including Hyperloop.

Don't be fooled by political statemens of Bavarian opposition parties that were ventilated through the media. ;-) Politician's speak in that state is traditonally very hefty and exaggerated.

Goal of "Bavaria One" is to build up a satellite industy in Bavaria and have the sats launched on a Bavarian-made rocket. 700m is the sum of long-term investments - mostly private - that are hoped to be achived after stimulating this project by some public money. 30m public money for the first two years is not bad. Private capital invested will be multiple times of that.
« Last Edit: 04/18/2019 02:20 pm by PM3 »
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Offline PM3

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #7 on: 06/30/2019 03:11 pm »
New Spectrum webpage with nice renderings: https://www.isaraerospace.com/spectrum.php

Length: 27 m
Diameter: 2 m
Fairing options (max. payload size): 1.8 x 4.9 and 2.5 x 5.3 m

1st stage engines: 9 x 75 kN, engine-out capability
2nd stage engine: 1 x 94 kN

1000 kg to LEO
700 kg to SSO (height?)

This is Firefly Alpha class.

Payload User's Guide available on request: https://www.isaraerospace.com/launch.php

Hiring: Sales Manager, Accountant, Propulsion Engineer, Propulsion Testing Engineer, Propulsion Testing Technician, Avionics Testing Engineer, Avionics Testing Technician, Electrical Engineer, Satellite Integration Engineer, Structural Engineer, Production Technician, Quality Assurance Engineer, IT Administrator, People Manager
« Last Edit: 06/30/2019 03:33 pm by PM3 »
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Offline bolun

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #8 on: 12/13/2019 02:52 pm »
« Last Edit: 12/13/2019 03:23 pm by bolun »

Offline Blackjax

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #9 on: 12/13/2019 08:42 pm »
The fact that they seem to have secured enough funding to get them through most or all of their development is definitely a point in their favor and puts them in a fairly small subset of the large number of launchers that have been claimed to be under development.  That said I have been through the info about this launcher and I am having trouble spotting anything about it which seems to stand out as a competitive advantage except for the fact that they are in Europe.  They are targeting somewhere between $16m and $17m per launch.  This gives them the following per kg pricing vs the vehicles they are most comparable to:

Isar Spectrum $16k-$17k
Firefly Alpha $15k
ABL RS1 $10k
Relativity Terran 1 $8k

For European payloads that want to fly specifically on a European launcher I suppose they might be able to compete, but that would likely mean they are strealing that payload from the Vega or Ariane 6.  I wonder what dynamics of the situation would be with ESA and Arianespace.  Things might get interesting if they suck the wind out of the sails on the Vega.

Does anyone see anything else about the vehicle or their stated plan that stands out?  Otherwise they just look like the weakest in their cohort of "launchers at the high end of the small launcher space who might actually reach a demo flight".
« Last Edit: 12/13/2019 08:48 pm by Blackjax »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #10 on: 12/13/2019 09:19 pm »
Fuel is light hydrocarbon, I'm assuming that is methane.
Upper start engine can do multiple restarts which will be needed on rideshare missions.

Yet another 9+1 engine LV, unlike Electron the 1000kg LVs should be able to do propulsive reentry, while sacrificing payload performance, still light enough for Mid Air Recovery.


Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #11 on: 12/13/2019 09:31 pm »
The fact that they seem to have secured enough funding to get them through most or all of their development is definitely a point in their favor and puts them in a fairly small subset of the large number of launchers that have been claimed to be under development.  That said I have been through the info about this launcher and I am having trouble spotting anything about it which seems to stand out as a competitive advantage except for the fact that they are in Europe.  They are targeting somewhere between $16m and $17m per launch.  This gives them the following per kg pricing vs the vehicles they are most comparable to:

Isar Spectrum $16k-$17k
Firefly Alpha $15k
ABL RS1 $10k
Relativity Terran 1 $8k

For European payloads that want to fly specifically on a European launcher I suppose they might be able to compete, but that would likely mean they are strealing that payload from the Vega or Ariane 6.  I wonder what dynamics of the situation would be with ESA and Arianespace.  Things might get interesting if they suck the wind out of the sails on the Vega.

Does anyone see anything else about the vehicle or their stated plan that stands out?  Otherwise they just look like the weakest in their cohort of "launchers at the high end of the small launcher space who might actually reach a demo flight".
They will need to rely on europe market as its up against stiff competition. Firefly and ABL plan to fly in 2020 with Relativity in 2021. By 2021 Firefly and ABL should be flying regularly giving one year lead and most importantly flight proven LV. NB it can take while to go from successful demo flight to commercial operation, typically LV needs changes that first couple flights show up.


Offline ringsider

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #12 on: 12/13/2019 11:15 pm »
Airbus, which owns 50% of ArianeGroup, buys into the very last startup to appear - and one that:

- competes directly with Vega

- has no discernable technical advantage

- is located in the highest cost part of Europe and

- is run by recent university graduates?

This is an interesting puzzle.

SpinLaunch is easy to understand - high risk but high potential to disrupt - but what motivates this odd move at this time?

EDIT:

This is really intriguing the more you look into it.

It is reasonably obvious this little company does not have a revolutionary offer or major technical advantage versus the dozens of others out there - it doesn't even have a head start. So perhaps the only rational way to look at it is to consider if there is another reason for this investment?
 
What if Airbus is sending a message? Is this perhaps a move to send a signal to OHB, who also announced developments a few weeks ago around their own launcher subsidiary?

On the face this is a bizarre investment by Airbus, but if you look upon it as a way to dilute investment into OHB's efforts, who until now would have been the only serious German effort, and who importantly rival Airbus for major satellite orders, it could be a very strategic "spoiler" development.

The location of this young company is one of the most important factors here - Germany. That is the key.
« Last Edit: 12/14/2019 01:51 pm by ringsider »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #13 on: 12/14/2019 02:40 pm »
New Spectrum webpage with nice renderings: https://www.isaraerospace.com/spectrum.php

Length: 27 m
Diameter: 2 m
Fairing options (max. payload size): 1.8 x 4.9 and 2.5 x 5.3 m

1st stage engines: 9 x 75 kN, engine-out capability
2nd stage engine: 1 x 94 kN

1000 kg to LEO
700 kg to SSO (height?)

This is Firefly Alpha class.

Payload User's Guide available on request: https://www.isaraerospace.com/launch.php

Hiring: Sales Manager, Accountant, Propulsion Engineer, Propulsion Testing Engineer, Propulsion Testing Technician, Avionics Testing Engineer, Avionics Testing Technician, Electrical Engineer, Satellite Integration Engineer, Structural Engineer, Production Technician, Quality Assurance Engineer, IT Administrator, People Manager
Wow.

Yet another liquid fueled TSTO ELV running GG cycle engines. [EDIT and it's got 9 engines in the booster and 1 in the US. Dare I even whisper they might be trying to recover that booster at some later stage? ]

I can barely control my excitement at such cutting edge innovation.  :(

Truly it feels like I'm living in the future. Like 2010 or sometime like that.
« Last Edit: 12/14/2019 03:14 pm by john smith 19 »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #14 on: 12/14/2019 02:42 pm »
Airbus, which owns 50% of ArianeGroup, buys into the very last startup to appear - and one that:

- competes directly with Vega

- has no discernable technical advantage
Actually the "competes with Vega" might be the key as well.

Vega is mostly Italian and AFAIK Airbus don't have that big a part of it.

OTOH it's SRB technology leverages A6 and the French ICBM programmes so it would be difficult to challenge it directly.

BTW AFAIK Vega is still the largest LV with an all electric TVC. That really has moved electric actuators for LV's up to TRL9
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline edzieba

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #15 on: 12/15/2019 03:39 pm »
The fact that they seem to have secured enough funding to get them through most or all of their development is definitely a point in their favor and puts them in a fairly small subset of the large number of launchers that have been claimed to be under development.  That said I have been through the info about this launcher and I am having trouble spotting anything about it which seems to stand out as a competitive advantage except for the fact that they are in Europe.  They are targeting somewhere between $16m and $17m per launch.  This gives them the following per kg pricing vs the vehicles they are most comparable to:

Isar Spectrum $16k-$17k
Firefly Alpha $15k
ABL RS1 $10k
Relativity Terran 1 $8k

For European payloads that want to fly specifically on a European launcher I suppose they might be able to compete, but that would likely mean they are strealing that payload from the Vega or Ariane 6.  I wonder what dynamics of the situation would be with ESA and Arianespace.  Things might get interesting if they suck the wind out of the sails on the Vega.

Does anyone see anything else about the vehicle or their stated plan that stands out?  Otherwise they just look like the weakest in their cohort of "launchers at the high end of the small launcher space who might actually reach a demo flight".
"Nothing stands out" is probably the attraction: a proven design with adequate funding should have no real issues producing a viable launcher.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #16 on: 12/15/2019 06:56 pm »
The fact that they seem to have secured enough funding to get them through most or all of their development

No. $17m is not enough for "most or all of their development" of a 1,000kg launcher, not even close.

More like $100m-$150m. This is seed stage money.
 

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #17 on: 12/15/2019 07:04 pm »
"Nothing stands out" is probably the attraction: a proven design with adequate funding should have no real issues producing a viable launcher.
It's only real advantage is if you want to use a European launcher. In which case I presume they would expect customers to pay any premium over LV's with equal performance but lower cost but from outside Europe.
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline Blackjax

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Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #18 on: 12/15/2019 11:02 pm »
The fact that they seem to have secured enough funding to get them through most or all of their development

No. $17m is not enough for "most or all of their development" of a 1,000kg launcher, not even close.

More like $100m-$150m. This is seed stage money.

Not that this changes much since the amount involved in the seed round was likely modest but the prior round was the seed round:
https://medium.com/uvc-partners-news/space-flight-company-isar-aerospace-receives-multi-million-euro-investment-b75e753868ca

This recent round was series A.  So this is probably the third infusion of money into the effort counting whatever they bootstrapped with prior to securing the seed money.

I think it is possible we are thinking of different things when we are discussing their 'development' if you believe the cost will be that amount.  FWIW I was envisioning reaching the point where they have a design ready for their prototype and have decent number of engine hot fires and interations.  Basically enough hardware and design to bring to bring to investors to get enough series B for test flights and early demo missions. That might be combined with things like government grants or other subsidies, debt, and advance revenue from contracts.  They pretty much say this in the article:

Quote
...Isar Aerospace’s $17 million Series A will fund the 30-person company through to a full-duration engine hot-fire, Metzler said...

I'm curious to know how their government and organizations like ESA will view them.  I think that could have a substantial impact on the likeliihood of resources being available.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Isar Aerospace
« Reply #19 on: 12/16/2019 12:17 am »
They maybe able do demo LV for lot less than $100-150m. The factory etc to build 10-20 a year will need rest of $100-150m. To be successful need to build production line at same time as demo LV. Customers won't wait a year or two after demo mission while production facilities are built.

« Last Edit: 12/16/2019 12:18 am by TrevorMonty »

 

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