PLD Space has received a $1.1 million contract to continue the work on their liquid rocket engine propulsion program.
PLD's new economic has been provided by the regional investment fund of the Aragón area, called SUMA Teruel. PLD Space had already received the $1.56M TEPREL contract in April 2016 to upgrade for flight their 25 KN Liquid Oxygen—Kerosene rocket engine. PLD Space is the first European rocket company that, in 2015, made the critical leap from Powerpoint and cool drawings to full-scale hardware and real tests.
The $1.1 million investment will provide all of the necessary economical resources to upgrade PLD Space’s current propulsion test stand and to develop two new benches at Teruel Airport, located in the desert area of Aragón (Spain). The company's activity at this location continues to grow since they began the construction of the first, fully-private, liquid propulsion test facility in 2014. In June of 2015, PLD Space became the first European company to test a full-scale and full-power liquid rocket engine demonstrator for the launching of smallsats.
Meanwhile at PLD Space’s headquarters in Elche, engineers are working to upgrade the firm's current propulsion test stand, called VTS-1, to perform long-duration engine firings, allowing for tests of their new liquid propulsion system for as long as 180 seconds, which is a full-mission firing for the ARION 1 single stage rocket. In addition, PLD Space will develop two new test stands, allowing to test entire stages of its launch vehicles and advanced engine developments with Liquid Methane.
The next test stand will be called S1-PTS (Stage 1 Propulsion Test Stand) and will be focused on testing complete stages with fully integrated propulsion, avionics and structures flight-qualification subsystems. In December of 2017, PLD Space will test the ARION 1’s first stage at S1-PTS in a full-mission duration test with Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) and Software-in-the-loop (SIL) techniques prior to the maiden flight in April of 2018. This procedure will provide all the necessary information to ensure PLD Space is comfortable of all aspects for the ARION 1's first test flight with 100 kg suborbital payloads on board. The company is working with several European customers for this first test launch, which will be free for suborbital research and technology development.
In addition, the PLD Space’s Advanced Projects team is working with a new propulsion test facility that will be equipped with Liquid Oxygen – Liquid Methane and will fulfill the European needs to test new propulsion developments and will be also used to test high-efficient ARION 2 orbital launch vehicle third stage developments.
In December of 2015, PLD Space signed a contract with the European Commission and DLR to test the latter’s innovative propulsion technologies at PLD Space’s propulsion test facilities. This milestone is a giant leap in the PLD Space commercial roadmap and the company is looking forward for new contracts with other European space companies, by using PLD Space’s expertise in propulsion and testing facilities.