German launch service provider RFA has secured a substantial €30 million ($32.9 million) investment from global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR).
This critical injection of funds arrives as RFA advances towards the inaugural launch of its cutting-edge RFA ONE rocket.
RFA confirmed, ‘The infusion of capital will play a pivotal role in expediting RFA’s imminent integrated first stage testing and the completion of the launch pad at the SaxaVord Spaceport in Scotland. These advancements will ultimately pave the way for deploying the RFA ONE micro-launcher.
The much-anticipated RFA ONE rocket is now slated for its maiden voyage in the second quarter of 2024. This rescheduling follows initial plans to conduct the test flight in late 2023, as reported in November 2022.
Powered by a triad of stages, the RFA ONE launcher stands out for employing a cluster consisting of nine kerosene-liquid oxygen staged combustion Helix engines on its primary stage. This design enables it to carry a payload of up to 1,300 kilograms into a 300-kilometre polar orbit.
KKR’s financial involvement positions the firm as a leading investor alongside the existing strategic investor OHB.
This new development follows KKR’s recent acquisition of a minority stake in German satellite manufacturer OHB, which underlines its intent to take OHB private.
Sources suggest this strategic manoeuvre aims to empower OHB to harness the expanding commercial satellite market’s opportunities more effectively.
The investment from KKR comes on the heels of RFA’s marked progress in several domains. RFA successfully executed an upper-stage hot fire test in May, showcasing its technical prowess.
In June, the company inked an agreement with the French space agency CNES, enabling it to offer its launch services from the Kourou Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana, with launches scheduled to commence in 2025.
RFA’s impressive track record of achieving significant technical milestones and its relentless commitment to cost leadership make for a winning strategy in the global arena. We eagerly anticipate being part of RFA’s journey to further growth.
RFA is resolute in its mission to provide ‘cost-effective and flexible launch services to space’ in response to the escalating global demand for space access.
The company stands among a cohort of European launch startups, including Isar Aerospace in Munich, Skyrora and Orbex in the United Kingdom, and PLD Space in Spain.
These enterprises are all vying to enter orbit and secure clientele, especially as Europe grapples with challenges impeding its space access capabilities.
With the long-delayed Ariane 6 launch anticipated in early 2024, the European Space Agency, CNES, Arianespace, and ArianeGroup are gearing up for a press briefing and Q&A session on September 4th to address these ongoing developments.