The German Defense Ministry awarded the startup Polaris a €250,000 contract to study the application of the Aurora spaceplane for reconnaissance missions.
“Aurora is designed for aircraft-like take-off and landing on conventional runways anywhere in the world, including Germany and Europe, and features global autonomous ferry flight capability for operation base relocation,” Polaris explains. “Aurora offers unique capabilities in addressing various commercial as well as defense-related suborbital/hypersonic mission scenarios, with a payload capacity of several tons.”
In collaboration with the Institute of Aerospace Engineering of the Technische Universität Dresden, the study will also investigate the potential of fitting the Aurora with rocket engines fitted with aerospike nozzles.
Unlike conventional “bell” nozzles that let burnt gases run free, aerospike nozzles channel combustion gases against a ramp to optimize the efficiency of the propulsion. Thanks to this method, aerospike rockets use 25-30% less fuel at low altitudes, making them a perfect solution for single-stage orbital launchers.
In April 2020, Polaris successfully flew a technology demonstrator of the Aurora, called the Stella. It should later be used as a testbed for the development of automated flight control systems.
Following in the footsteps of its allies, Germany recently increased their interest in space. On July 13, 2021, the German armed forces put their space command into service to regroup all their spatial activities.