CORDIS - EU research results

Scale Up of a Game-Changing Hybrid Rocket Propulsion System for Sounding Rockets and Smallsat Launchers

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HyTEC (Scale Up of a Game-Changing Hybrid Rocket Propulsion System for Sounding Rockets and Smallsat Launchers)

Reporting period: 2021-04-01 to 2022-09-30

Driven by maturation of miniaturization technologies, cost-effective off-theshelf electronics and reduced barriers to entry, the small satellite (< 500 kg) market has seen an historic rapid growth in the recent years. This trend is expected to continue as current forecasts estimate the requirement of 800 satellites to be launched every year for the next decade. This is a significant exponential increase in demand of small satellites. Current launch capacities cannot cover existing and near-term needs. Therefore, a dedicated launch service is necessary to launch small satellites to specific orbits and time windows without having the constraints from rideshare launches. HyImpulse will operate initially 12 launches per year (increasing to 24) with the proposed Mini Launcher.
The overall project objective is to develop the low-cost European small launcher by introducing new technologies such as hybrid propulsion system and lightweight turbopumps that currently do not exist in Europe. The major differentiator from other competitors and the reason why this project is so important for society, is that the core and the base of technologies used revolves around sustainability. The propellants have no environmental impact, during the operational phase of the company, the paraffin fuel is planned to be manufactured completely using the Fischer-Tropsch process with renewable energy. This is an important factor, given the expected rise in demand of frequent launches.
The overall objective is to supply the rise in demand of small satellites launches by offering a unique launch service that will complement the fleet of European existing launchers, as well as introduce revolutionary technologies in space propulsion that are also sustainable and economically efficient.
There is a significant progress since the beginning of the project. Despite the challenges caused by pandemic, we continued developing our product and expanding our operations. The most important results that have emanated from the project:

1. Hardware scale up of game-changing hybrid propulsion systems leading up to testing of the largest hybrid motor (75kN) ever tested in Europe

2. Development of product architectures involving advanced and innovative technologies for both the sub-orbital and the orbital launchers resulting in ability to provide ultra-low cost launch prices for customers

3. Increased visibility and credibility in both the scientific and business worlds generating positive results for attracting further investments, sales, and industrial partnership

We are most proud of the fact that even under adverse conditions (COVID19), as a lean startup (< 60 people), HyImpulse under the HyTEC projected became the most technologically advanced rocket launcher startup in Europe, successfully completing acceptance tests of 75kN hybrid motors and turbopump gas generators. We also through our outreach and dissemination activities were able to generate cumulative customer interests worth ~ 120M€.

Below is the list of papers from conference proceedings, which can be accessed by public:

• “HyImpulse Small Launcher –The European Hybrid Launch Vehicle” by Ferdinand Hertel

• “Mission analysis and flight safety to launch a hybrid sounding rocket” by Davide Corbo

• “Derivation of Requirements for Autonomous Flight Termination System” by Marc Schwarzbach

• “75 kN LOX/paraffin flight-weight hybrid motor development” by Jérôme Messineo, Anna Petrarolo, Vittorio Di Pietrantonio, Enrico Paccagnella, Ben Oker, Mario Kobald

• “Comparison of turbopump starting options for hybrid rocket propulsion” by Dmytro Maksiuta

• "Flight Safety Analysis to Launch a Hybrid Sounding Rocket" by Davide Corbo, Isabella Verri, Ulrich Fischer, Christian Schmierer
The project’s overall legacy will be that it is indeed possible for a European startup to develop high innovation deep-technologies that is commercially competitive across the world, and which can be developed in record time indigenously inside Europe.
In terms of socio-economic impact, since the beginning of the project HyImpulse consisted of 20 staff member and now it is more than doubled. The company plans to create jobs and grow to above 100 in the years following the phase 2 SME project to develop the launch vehicle and offer a full suite of launch services.
After these company milestones are achieved, the mass production of hybrid rocket rockets will begin, and will lead to the major cost reduction and eventually to a successful market adoption.
The specifics of hybrid propulsion technology will also enable to provide rapid deployment capability for urgent need or in case of emergency. This could be applied for environmental monitoring, disaster management satellites, as well as the new technology demonstrators that require rapid turnaround launches. Ultimately it will have a positive impact on the EU economy.
The development of such capability will provide a substantial competitive advantage, in comparison to international offerings. This will open a key market for Europe in space transportation.
Winding machine for motors
Firing of HyPLOX75 engine
Winding activities
Paraffin Production
Small series production of motors
Team with motor
HyPLOX75 test number 1