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reuSable strAtegic space Launcher Technologies & Operations

Project description

The first-ever European demonstration of a reusable space strategic launcher’s first stage

Independent access to space is strategic for Europe. Strengthening Europe’s space assets and services in a sustainable and cost-effective way is an EU priority. Reusable space launchers are an intense area of research and development as they address these goals. Europe, as other leading space-faring nations, is working on reusable space launchers and is willing to go faster. The EU-funded SALTO project will develop technologies and building blocks for the first stage of a launcher and perform, for the first time in Europe, fly-recover-fly cycles of a reusable launcher first-stage demonstrator. It will reinforce the EU’s independence regarding the supply of key materials and technologies, make space more accessible and foster the EU space sector’s competitiveness.


SALTO will perform, for the first time in Europe, fly / recover / refly cycles of a reusable rocket first stage demonstrator. Operating a large-scale vehicle at low altitude, consistent with future European strategic needs, and embedding a set of critical technologies, the project will significantly boost the strategic launchers roadmap, enabling the vision of a future launch fleet improving by 50% space access costs and reducing environmental impacts. SALTO will hence act as a “stepping stone” towards reusability of strategic launchers in Europe which is one of the key leverages to reach such vision.
Fully aligned with previous ESA-funded activities (e.g. Themis initial phase Program), SALTO focuses on
- Technologies and building blocks maturation up to TRL5/6 for the first stage of a strategic launcher;
- Subsystem/system tests with two low altitude system tests (“hop test”) campaigns.
SALTO's methodology will combine robust system engineering with technology maturation activities and a stepped demonstration strategy to accelerate experimental learning through the implementation of the Agile methodology. The SALTO project will culminate in flight test campaigns to demonstrate and validate the technologies necessary for a reusable launch vehicle.
SALTO will contribute to the cost reduction target for strategic launcher in Europe by addressing ~3/4 (in cost) of all technologies / operations involved in a future European reusable rocket stage. While Europe is currently lagging behind other global players when it comes to reusable launchers, SALTO will reinforce EU’s independent capacity to access space, secure autonomy of supply for critical technologies and equipment, and foster EU's space sector competitiveness.
At the end of the project, lessons will be drawn regarding the maturity of the different technological bricks, TRL and readiness for flight tests. A roadmap to increase their maturity will be prepared in view of suborbital tests by 2025.



Net EU contribution
€ 13 790 397,50
51-61 route de verneuil
78130 Les mureaux

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Yvelines
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Other funding
€ 2 056 865,00

Participants (25)