Aurora Small-Launcher Spaceplane

Aurora was initially designed at the German Aerospace Center DLR in 2015-2018. The DLR spin-off POLARIS Raumflugzeuge continues Aurora development & commercialization under DLR license agreement.

Aurora is based on groundbreaking spaceplane research including concepts such as Saenger and Hopper. The basic approach - a horizontal take-off rocketplane - was identified as the most economic solution for future access to space within the comprehensive ESA FESTIP study. 

Aurora adopts and implements this approach via a highly optimized vehicle design and with utilizing latest structures and heat-shield technologies.

The first-generation vehicles are designed for fast, low-cost and low risk development to allow for quick commercialization. This is achieved by using off-the-shelf aviation and space hardware wherever possible, and by extensive flight-testing campaigns.


  • Hundreds of missions per vehicle
  • Reusability fraction of 90-95% for two-stage satellite launch (expendable upper-stage)
  • Reusability fraction of 100% for single-stage suborbital & hypersonic missions

Aircraft-like Operation

  • Take-off and landing on conventional runways, no launch-pad required
  • Unmatched flexibility and availability
  • Launch on-demand, responsive launch

Payload Cost Efficiency

  • Reduction of spaceflight costs compared to conventional rockets by factor of 3 for baseline small-launcher, up to factor of 5-10 for future heavy launcher
  • Satellite payload ≥800 kg for take-off under turbine-power (ignition of rocket engines in flight)
  • Satellite payload ≥1000 kg for take-off under rocket-power
  • Up to 5-10 tons of payload for suborbital & hypersonic missions

Safety & Robustness

  • Unique safety level due to mission abort capability & aircraft-like operation
  • No toxic fuels
  • No rocket debris crashing to ground
  • Resistant to adverse weather & environmental conditions

Scalability & Markets

  • Scalability of the design: configurations can be derived in different sizes
  • At least 5 different target markets