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ESA Commercial Space Transportation Services Program: Isar Aerospace and German Space Agency at DLR announce payloads for first test flight of Spectrum launch vehicle

3 December 2021

Isar Aerospace and the German Space Agency at DLR have announced the selection of the institutional payloads for the maiden flight of the "Spectrum" rocket planned for the end of 2022 as part of the microlauncher competition. Among the winners of the Announcement of Opportunity are five institutions from Germany, Norway, and Slovenia with a total of seven small satellites that will be used to demonstrate various technologies in space such as communication or weather data measurement.

Overview of the selected payload

Germany, DLR Responsive Space Competence Center (RSC³), Trauen

Germany, Technical University Berlin, Institute of Aerospace Engineering, Berlin

Germany, ZfT - Center for Telematics e.V., Würzburg

Norway, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim

Slovenia, University of Maribor, Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications, Maribor

This endeavor between the German Space Agency at DLR and Isar Aerospace represents a first of a kind collaboration between a public institution and a private launch service provider in the European industry. With the microlauncher competition, the German government entrusts a privately financed European space company under the ESA C-STS program to transport institutional payloads into orbit for the first time. This is also a strong signal of support by the German government for the New Space industry in Europe and the sector as a key technology for the future.

“We are pleased to announce the selection of payloads for the first flight of Spectrum and thank the German Space Agency at DLR and the institutions for their trust. It is great to be part of this pioneering program and we are looking forward to further shaping the cooperation between the public and private sector in European spaceflight. This collaboration will further contribute to the development of research and technology in space and will help growing the overall private space ecosystem in Europe,” says Daniel Metzler, CEO of Isar Aerospace.

With the microlauncher program, DLR and ESA set up a program to drive forward the commercialization of European spaceflight and to set it up autonomously and competitively, especially in the field of smaller payloads. Isar Aerospace won the first round of the German microlauncher competition in April 2021 for which it received 11 million euros towards the launch of institutional payloads on the first two flights.

"With the microlauncher competition and the payload selection for Isar Aerospace’s first flight, we are taking another concrete step in the commercialization of European spaceflight. Isar Aerospace's Spectrum rocket symbolizes the dynamic development of the European space industry in recent years and in the future," adds Dr. Walther Pelzer, Executive Board member of the DLR and Head of the German Space Agency at DLR.

The small satellites with a total weight of approx. 100 kg including the deployers will be transported into a polar orbit from Andøya in Norway.

For this purpose, Exolaunch, a global leader for rideshare launch, deployment, in-space transportation, and integration services for the NewSpace industry, will provide Isar Aerospace with integration services and with the small satellite deployer "EXOpod", which will be used to deploy the satellites to their final orbits. Jeanne Medvedeva, VP of Launch Services at Exolaunch adds: “Our advanced separation systems have enabled reliable launch and deployment for nearly over 170 small satellites, and together with Isar Aerospace we can bring an end-to-end, 100% made in Germany launch service. We are happy to partner with Isar Aerospace, as we see the company becoming an important player in the European launch landscape.”

Another deployer for the satellites, a deployment command sequencer and integration support services for the first flight of Spectrum will be provided by ISISPACE, a company that designs and delivers small satellite platforms for single missions and constellations. “We are very pleased to see the start of a long-term cooperation between ISISPACE and Isar Aerospace. With our proven launch interface equipment and ISILAUNCH's extensive experience in small satellite launch services we are glad to support Isar Aerospace in disrupting the European small launch capabilities with their innovative new launch vehicle”, said ISISPACE/ISILAUNCH Director, Abe Bonnema.

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