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Retro Propulsion Assisted Landing Technologies

Project description

Investigating technologies for reusable vertical landing launch vehicles

Reusable launch vehicles are changing the global market of space transportation systems, promising to drive down the cost of access to space. Existing rockets use a vertical take-off and vertical landing launch and decelerate by firing their engines against the velocity vector, the so-called retropropulsion. The EU-funded RETALT project aims to investigate key technologies for retropropulsion reusable launch systems. The consortium will examine the aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics (in-flight surface temperatures) and flight dynamics during both the outward and return flight phases, as well as navigation and control. It will also explore structural components, materials and mechanisms of reusable rockets.


For Europe’s non-dependence, access to space is crucial. To foster the European industry competitiveness, the costs of the European launch systems need to be reduced and flexibility needs to be improved. The development of reusable launch vehicle (RLV) is currently changing the global market of space transportation systems and is promising immense cost savings. The only operational approach of RLV to date is the Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing launcher (VTVL), which is decelerating by firing its engines against the velocity vector, the so called retro propulsion. The know-how in the technologies of retro propulsion assisted landing in Europe is spares. In this project we aim to investigate and developed these technologies.

Therefore, the two main scientific and technological objectives of the RETALT project are:
• To investigate the launch system reusability technology of VTVL TSTO (Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing - Two Stage To Orbit) by applying retro propulsion combined with aerodynamic control surfaces that is currently dominating the global market.
• To investigate the launch system reusability technology of VTVL SSTO RLV (Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing - Single Stage To Orbit) applying retro propulsion for future space transportation systems.

To meet these two main project objectives of the project, described above, two reference launch vehicle configurations will be defined:
• A configuration similar to the SpaceX rocket “Falcon 9” that will be the reference for the state-of-the-art TSTO RLV.
• A configuration similar to the DC-X that will serve as a reference for a VTVL SSTO.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 1 157 102,50
51147 Koln

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Köln Köln, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 157 102,50

Participants (5)