Author Topic: Rocket Factory Augsburg  (Read 57943 times)

Offline leovinus

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #20 on: 02/14/2021 06:26 pm »

[snip]

A little bit desperate perhaps? Didn't they announce they were looking for money about a year ago? OHB is a billion dollar firm, why doesn't it chip in €25m itself if the management really has such strong belief as Fuchs and Steininger suggest?

I wish them well and look forward to a first launch and working hardware. However, given the recent situation and sentiments in Germany, investors are likely to look at the Wirecard disaster as well as the PTScientist x-prize to the moon. All dream of imitating Silicon Valley and startup success. Those German enterprises that I know with these dreams have not worked out because of various reasons. When I spoke with the PTScientists in 2019 in person, I had the impression of "keeping up appearances" which was followed indeed by bankruptcy. Therefore, while German engineers and scientists are typically great, German investors should request "better than usual" guarantees to make sure this is a legit rocket business attempt and not another trail of tears.

Offline gmbnz

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #21 on: 02/15/2021 03:47 am »
In the meantime, the start-up has begun building prototypes of its engine.

The company has been around for years and is still only beginning to prototype the engine? That's a red flag and a half.
(Unless they were originally going to buy an engine and now have to bring it in-house, but that still doesn't change the outcome)

Offline woods170

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #22 on: 02/15/2021 09:06 am »
In the meantime, the start-up has begun building prototypes of its engine.

The company has been around for years and is still only beginning to prototype the engine? That's a red flag and a half.
(Unless they were originally going to buy an engine and now have to bring it in-house, but that still doesn't change the outcome)

Emphasis mine.
The company was founded in the second half of 2018. So, they have been around for 'years' since the second half of 2020.

Having said that...

This 'red flag' is the result of a radical course change which happened in Q2 of 2020 (according to a source of mine in Germany).
Until roughly May 2020 the RFA One rocket was designed to launch with 'simple' Gas Generator (GG) cycle rocket engines. By Q1 2020 RFA had developed and tested the ignitor, turbopump and gas generator.

But then sometime around June 2020 the company quietly changed the design to incorporate Staged Combustion Cycle rocket engines. Which meant that most of the design of the rocket engine was dropped and replaced with a new design. It translated into a different turbopump, dropping the work on the gas generator, and developing a combustion cycle which is much more difficult to master than a GG cycle.

The change in combustion cycle is also reflected in their projected first flight. That went from 'The first launch is scheduled for 2022' to 'The goal of the start-up is to develop a launch vehicle prototype by the end of 2022'. This latter statement meaning that first launch is now firmly in 2023, given that the prototype rocket first needs to be thoroughly tested before it can be launched.

Public source for status at RFA in March 2020 (listing GG cycle):
https://ritspace.se/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Testing-and-development-of-microlaunchers-Mathieu-Rayer.pdf

Public source for status at RFA in September 2020 (listing SC cycle):
https://eisc-europa.eu/images/stories/2020/Presentation_EISC_2020_Fuchs_OHB.pdf
« Last Edit: 02/15/2021 09:15 am by woods170 »

Offline PM3

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #23 on: 02/15/2021 01:20 pm »
Here is a German video report about RFA, published on 4 August 2020. The second half is a factory tour that also shows some rocket parts:

https://www.butenunbinnen.de/videos/sendungen/butenunbinnen-2288.html

Need to scroll to the riight, it is the fourth of six videos. They still communicated a launch readiness date of early 2022 there. Does not say when this was recorded, but those "Buten und Binnen" reports generally look pretty up-to-date.
« Last Edit: 02/15/2021 02:09 pm by PM3 »
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Offline woods170

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #24 on: 02/16/2021 09:46 am »
Here is a German video report about RFA, published on 4 August 2020. The second half is a factory tour that also shows some rocket parts:

https://www.butenunbinnen.de/videos/sendungen/butenunbinnen-2288.html

Need to scroll to the riight, it is the fourth of six videos. They still communicated a launch readiness date of early 2022 there. Does not say when this was recorded, but those "Buten und Binnen" reports generally look pretty up-to-date.

That 2022 launch is effectively out the window. You don't change main engine cycle type, from GG to SC, in mid-2020 and expect to launch just 2 years later. RFA effectively delayed itself at least a year by switching to a more complicated and difficult-to-master engine cycle type.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2021 09:46 am by woods170 »

Offline MiqBos

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #25 on: 02/22/2021 02:58 pm »
The Andøya orbital launchpad project is progressing. They have received the approval of local authorities and should start construction this Spring. The project has changed quite a lot and the renders now show up to 3 segregated pads that include space for the rocket's fuel/oxidizer tanks and other small facilities.

https://www.nrk.no/nordland/andoy-spaceport-kan-gi-nytt-norsk-romeventyr-og-na-er-prosjektet-et-steg-naermere-realisering-1.15332757





Offline leovinus

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #26 on: 03/18/2021 02:11 pm »

[snip]

A little bit desperate perhaps? Didn't they announce they were looking for money about a year ago? OHB is a billion dollar firm, why doesn't it chip in €25m itself if the management really has such strong belief as Fuchs and Steininger suggest?

I wish them well and look forward to a first launch and working hardware. However, given the recent situation and sentiments in Germany, investors are likely to look at the Wirecard disaster as well as the PTScientist x-prize to the moon. All dream of imitating Silicon Valley and startup success. Those German enterprises that I know with these dreams have not worked out because of various reasons. When I spoke with the PTScientists in 2019 in person, I had the impression of "keeping up appearances" which was followed indeed by bankruptcy. Therefore, while German engineers and scientists are typically great, German investors should request "better than usual" guarantees to make sure this is a legit rocket business attempt and not another trail of tears.

In the meantime, the start-up has begun building prototypes of its engine.

The company has been around for years and is still only beginning to prototype the engine? That's a red flag and a half.
(Unless they were originally going to buy an engine and now have to bring it in-house, but that still doesn't change the outcome)

Emphasis mine.
The company was founded in the second half of 2018. So, they have been around for 'years' since the second half of 2020.

Having said that...

This 'red flag' is the result of a radical course change which happened in Q2 of 2020 (according to a source of mine in Germany).
Until roughly May 2020 the RFA One rocket was designed to launch with 'simple' Gas Generator (GG) cycle rocket engines. By Q1 2020 RFA had developed and tested the ignitor, turbopump and gas generator.

But then sometime around June 2020 the company quietly changed the design to incorporate Staged Combustion Cycle rocket engines. Which meant that most of the design of the rocket engine was dropped and replaced with a new design. It translated into a different turbopump, dropping the work on the gas generator, and developing a combustion cycle which is much more difficult to master than a GG cycle.

The change in combustion cycle is also reflected in their projected first flight. That went from 'The first launch is scheduled for 2022' to 'The goal of the start-up is to develop a launch vehicle prototype by the end of 2022'. This latter statement meaning that first launch is now firmly in 2023, given that the prototype rocket first needs to be thoroughly tested before it can be launched.

[snip]


An update on the Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) via a sleuthing German journalist and Eric Berger.
Quote
Great bit of sleuthing here by a German journalist who thought small launch company Rocket Factory Augsburg's claims were too good to be true. He found the company recently switched to Ukrainian-made engines.
https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/1372557879757127688

The article itself is at
https://www.golem.de/news/deutsche-raumfahrt-rocket-factory-augsburg-macht-unglaubwuerdige-versprechen-2103-154734.html

Quote
Damit fehlt in den Plänen der Rocketfactory Augsburg alles, was die Rakete und deren Geschäftsmodell glaubwürdig machen würde.
or in English
Quote
Everything that would make the rocket and its business model credible is missing in the plans of the Rocketfactory Augsburg.

In summary: The ambition to be a German SpaceX has changed from "ambitious" to "completely irrational". Investors beware.

Offline Davidthefat

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #27 on: 03/18/2021 02:22 pm »
If the allegations are true, I am a bit disheartened by it. I have a lot of respect for a certain personnel associated with the project.

What are the specifics of the allegations?

Offline trimeta

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #28 on: 03/18/2021 03:17 pm »
There's been a follow-up article where RFA more or less says "OK, yeah, we're basically co-developing the engines with a Ukrainian firm, Yuzhmash." Specifically, Yuzhmash will supply the turbopumps and other "individual components," which RFA will assemble into engines. That probably doesn't make RFA's timeline of 2022 (or price of $4 million per launch) realistic, but it does answer how they intend to build an oxygen-rich staged combustion engine with little background in that engine cycle.

https://www.golem.de/news/deutsche-raumfahrt-triebwerkstechnik-der-rocketfactory-kommt-aus-der-ukraine-2103-154753.html

Offline Davidthefat

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #29 on: 03/18/2021 04:01 pm »
Reading the articles translated through Google, I feel like the author is overstepping out of their lane making such allegations. Some of the comparisons being made are not very fair.

Bringing in Aerojet Rocketdyne's AR1 into the conversation for one is not right just from the fact that it's Rocketdyne. Whatever may take 1 month at a start up, takes like 6 months at Rocketdyne due to all the processes behind everything. Also the AR1 project was at the mercy of funding and essentially the shareholders during quarterly earnings calls.

Also, the fact that the author did not actually work at those companies that got mentioned like SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Astra, I don't think the author can make such bold statements.

For one fundamentally, it is a different thrust class than the AR1 or Merlin which kind of limits them to certain manufacturing techniques that inherently take a long time like castings and forgings. Secondly, the Merlin went through many block upgrades during the timeframe the author specifies.

One good comparison to make is Relativity who changed engine cycles midcourse like RFA has done, and Ursa Major Technologies who developed and hot fired an ox rich staged combustion engine in 2 years or so? Firefly got and hotfired engines from Ukraine shortly after being revived?

I feel like the article is too bearish on their prospects and the author is out of their element in this field.

Offline tp1024

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #30 on: 03/18/2021 05:49 pm »
Reading the articles translated through Google, I feel like the author is overstepping out of their lane making such allegations. Some of the comparisons being made are not very fair.

Bringing in Aerojet Rocketdyne's AR1 into the conversation for one is not right just from the fact that it's Rocketdyne. Whatever may take 1 month at a start up, takes like 6 months at Rocketdyne due to all the processes behind everything. Also the AR1 project was at the mercy of funding and essentially the shareholders during quarterly earnings calls.

Also, the fact that the author did not actually work at those companies that got mentioned like SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Astra, I don't think the author can make such bold statements.

For one fundamentally, it is a different thrust class than the AR1 or Merlin which kind of limits them to certain manufacturing techniques that inherently take a long time like castings and forgings. Secondly, the Merlin went through many block upgrades during the timeframe the author specifies.

One good comparison to make is Relativity who changed engine cycles midcourse like RFA has done, and Ursa Major Technologies who developed and hot fired an ox rich staged combustion engine in 2 years or so? Firefly got and hotfired engines from Ukraine shortly after being revived?

I feel like the article is too bearish on their prospects and the author is out of their element in this field.

Well, I am the author of this article and I think some crucial details got lost in translation:
The company claimed it was less than 2 years away from launch. The engines had not even been fired on the test stand so far. Not even the design of the rocket had been finalized 22 months ahead of launch.

Besides the AR1 I also mentioned the BE-4, YF-100 and SCE-200 (the last two based on RD-120) - all of which took at least a decade to develop, despite having examples to work from, previous developments and considerable help from Ukraine and Russia at least in the case of the SCE-200. The argument was not that it would take a decade to develop the engine. Just that it would take much more time than the 22 months left until launch.

Edit: Also, Raptor is in development since 2012 and still burns the occasional bit of copper in flight or fails to start up. It's development is not quite finished.

Yes, Merlin went through 4 block upgrades until the first flight of Merlin 1D in 2013 (namely: 1A, 1B, 1C in Falcon 1 spec, 1C in Falcon 9 spec) - but in all engines prior to Merlin 1D the turbines and pumps were delivered from Barber-Nicols, not developed in-house. And it was a comparatively simple open cycle, not an oxygen rich closed cycle.

Finally: The company only admitted to getting help from Ukraine after the article was published. So I think I was very much in my element there and pointed out a very sore spot.
« Last Edit: 03/18/2021 06:45 pm by tp1024 »

Offline Davidthefat

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #31 on: 03/18/2021 07:07 pm »


Well, I am the author of this article and I think some crucial details got lost in translation:
The company claimed it was less than 2 years away from launch. The engines had not even been fired on the test stand so far. Not even the design of the rocket had been finalized 22 months ahead of launch.

Besides the AR1 I also mentioned the BE-4, YF-100 and SCE-200 (the last two based on RD-120) - all of which took at least a decade to develop, despite having examples to work from, previous developments and considerable help from Ukraine and Russia at least in the case of the SCE-200. The argument was not that it would take a decade to develop the engine. Just that it would take much more time than the 22 months left until launch.

Edit: Also, Raptor is in development since 2012 and still burns the occasional bit of copper in flight or fails to start up. It's development is not quite finished.

Yes, Merlin went through 4 block upgrades until the first flight of Merlin 1D in 2013 (namely: 1A, 1B, 1C in Falcon 1 spec, 1C in Falcon 9 spec) - but in all engines prior to Merlin 1D the turbines and pumps were delivered from Barber-Nicols, not developed in-house. And it was a comparatively simple open cycle, not an oxygen rich closed cycle.

Finally: The company only admitted to getting help from Ukraine after the article was published. So I think I was very much in my element there and pointed out a very sore spot.

I won't disagree with the timeline being ambitious (I can't think of a single aerospace company meeting their deadline on time, other than may be Launcher Space who intentionally gave a conservative estimate of 10 years).

Where I do find it very unfair is the statement about the company not having any credibility. I'd say that given the size of their engine and the manufacturing method, that the development time is inherently shorter than a more traditional methods (DMLS vs castings, forgings, brazing, welding, ect)

I can't give insight to the BE-4 development, but it seems like Blue Origin only really got a lot of manpower within the last few years.

I'll say that RFA is a lot more credible than a lot of other companies out there. I feel like they just need the funding and manpower to accomplish their goals. Funding situation seems a bit more difficult in the European front from an outsider looking in. American companies have a lot of angel funds and venture capitalists funding them, I am not sure about the funding of European companies.

Again, Ursa Major was able to develop an ox rich staged combustion engine in a few years with a handful of people.

Best of luck to RFA.

edit: I'll add ox rich staged combustion is a whole different beast at higher chamber pressures. I reckon RFA is targeting around 700 psi chamber pressure. A lot of the difficulty in previous developments are probably in part due to the high chamber pressures and thrust of the engines.
« Last Edit: 03/18/2021 07:13 pm by Davidthefat »

Offline PM3

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #32 on: 03/18/2021 08:40 pm »
The reporting by Frank Wunderlich-Pfeiffer generally tends to negativity. E. g. totally negative report about the Perseverance mission here. Wrote exactly one article about a Falcon 9 landing in the last two years - of course about a failed one. Emphasizing every mishap of Starship tests that did not go perfectly, calling it setbacks for SpaceX.

Suggest to take the RFA article with many grains of salt.
« Last Edit: 03/18/2021 08:41 pm by PM3 »
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Offline tp1024

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #33 on: 03/18/2021 08:53 pm »
The reporting by Frank Wunderlich-Pfeiffer generally tends to negativity. E. g. totally negative report about the Perseverance mission here. Wrote exactly one article about a Falcon 9 landing in the last two years - of course about a failed one. Emphasizing every mishap of Starship tests that did not go perfectly, calling it setbacks for SpaceX.

Suggest to take the RFA article with many grains of salt.

This was published on December 10th 2020: https://www.golem.de/news/raumfahrt-spacex-ist-erwachsen-geworden-2012-152721.html
And I've also written about SpaceX and all the records they broke in my review of 2020 here: https://www.golem.de/news/jahresrueckblick-das-waren-die-hoehenfluege-und-abstuerze-der-raumfahrt-2020-2012-153048-5.html
I also reported on the 5th launch of B1049 in August 2020 here: https://www.golem.de/news/raumfahrt-neue-rekorde-bei-falcon-9-und-verzweiflung-bei-ariane-6-2008-150336.html
And I dare you to call this "negative reporting" on the first crewed launch of Dragon in May 2020: https://www.golem.de/news/spacex-crew-dragon-fliegt-erstmals-mit-astronauten-an-bord-2005-148731.html
Or about that Neutron Rocket announcment on March 1st: https://www.golem.de/news/raumfahrt-rocketlab-geht-an-die-boerse-und-baut-grosse-neutron-rakete-2103-154583.html

Golem is about news and Falcon 9 landings stopped being news some time in 2016 or 2017. And I'm sorry, but I refuse to be impressed by missions that are stripped-down repeats of previous missions and still manage to be a billion dollars over budget. I report negativity when reality is negative.
« Last Edit: 03/18/2021 09:22 pm by tp1024 »

Online edzieba

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #34 on: 03/19/2021 10:22 am »
If anything, partnership with Yuzmash/Yuzhnoye (well known manufacturers and designers of a wide variety of engines in different cycles) is more encouraging for a fast development time rather than completely in-house development.

Online niwax

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #35 on: 03/19/2021 10:36 am »
If anything, partnership with Yuzmash/Yuzhnoye (well known manufacturers and designers of a wide variety of engines in different cycles) is more encouraging for a fast development time rather than completely in-house development.

It's also encouraging for spending half a Falcon 9 worth of cost on just the engines.
Which booster has the most soot? SpaceX booster launch history! (discussion)

Offline nuukee

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #36 on: 03/26/2021 12:28 pm »
The reporting by Frank Wunderlich-Pfeiffer generally tends to negativity. E. g. totally negative report about the Perseverance mission here. Wrote exactly one article about a Falcon 9 landing in the last two years - of course about a failed one. Emphasizing every mishap of Starship tests that did not go perfectly, calling it setbacks for SpaceX.

Suggest to take the RFA article with many grains of salt.

I could not disagree more. All other media outlets more or less post what they heard or read somewhere else whereas Frank does a lot of research which shows in the articles. I find them to be accurate, balanced and enjoy reading them.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #37 on: 04/01/2021 02:50 pm »
https://www.rfa.space/launcher/

According to the web site, they are using 9 engines in the first stage, and 1 in the second stage.

I have no idea what Ukrainian engine this is based on.

Offline woods170

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #38 on: 06/21/2021 10:13 am »
https://www.rfa.space/launcher/

According to the web site, they are using 9 engines in the first stage, and 1 in the second stage.

I have no idea what Ukrainian engine this is based on.

RD-809K.

Recent developments: 8-second power pack test, full engine ignition test, and full engine short-duration (two seconds) hot fire tests have been successful.

https://twitter.com/rfa_space/status/1406893383956762625
« Last Edit: 06/21/2021 10:20 am by woods170 »

Offline Danderman

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Re: Rocket Factory Augsburg
« Reply #39 on: 06/22/2021 01:17 am »

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