Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), a German defence equipment production company have signed an agreement with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), on rocket propulsion to usher the development of a commercial satellite launch vehicle.
The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) covers cooperation in the development of new rocket propulsion technologies, including collaborating on a liquid propellant rocket engine project named SAFFIRE. The SAFFIRE initiative – South African First Integrated Rocket Engine – is a project created by UKZN’s Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG). SAFFIRE originally started out as a paper design study by ASReG. The modular and compact liquid-propellant rocket engine would power a hypothetical 75 kg payload satellite launch vehicle.
ASReG runs the only university-based launch vehicle propulsion programme in South Africa and is supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The immediate aim of SAFFIRE is the development of a compact rocket engine that can be clustered to power the first and second stages of a commercial small-satellite launch vehicle. RDM will support the programme with element design, analysis and the manufacturing of key components, as well as the static evaluation of these rocket engines.
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