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
- 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