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SMILE - Small Innovative Launcher for Europe

Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:20 am

The SMILE project, officially initiated in May 2016, has passed a significant milestone with the several test firings of its (reusable) engine. Developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), it burns on LOx & kerosene. The fuel injector is 3D-printed from a Ni-Cr-Alloy and the combustion chamber is made of silicon carbide, making the engine both simple & cheap to build as well as sturdy enough for reuse.

Image ... lery/32572

SMILE is suppposed to create a dedicated launch vehicle for satellites up to 50 - 70 kilograms. Prospective launch sites would be Andoya, Norway, Esrange, Sweden, or the new Scottish spaceport. These would primarily be attractive for (near-) polar launches, similar to what Elektron is doing. The EU has funded it with ~ 4 million €, and I expect the respective companies and institutes to have added their share as well.

Overall, the basic idea does seem fairly similar to the Elektron rocket. I do believe that there is space for more than one launch provider but I'm not sure if SMILE will result in a working launcher. The original grant ends this year and I haven't seen any indication for continued funding. Nor is there a clear project lead. What has been done so far, instead, is mainly technology development.
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Re: SMILE - Small Innovative Launcher for Europe

Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:46 pm

Nice. What size rocket can this fly?
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Re: SMILE - Small Innovative Launcher for Europe

Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:45 pm

AirlineCritic wrote:
Nice. What size rocket can this fly?

I haven't seen anything about the rocket size, but the payload is up to 70 kg, i.e. less than half of the Rocket Lab Electron. So the rocket would likely be smaller than that. However, the program is still at the technology development level (avionics, engine, structure) and hasn't yet decided on what the overall launcher should look like. I haven't even found any information on the engine's thrust, so I can't really make an educated guess either.
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Re: SMILE - Small Innovative Launcher for Europe

Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:19 am

Sadly it appears that the 'smallsat' cubesat' market has been vastly overestimated.There was a recent article bemoaning the lack of commercial interest and hoping that government interest can fill the gap.Hoping for taxpayers money is imho a clear sign of desperation.
Rocketlab have the clear advantage with a fabulous product that is already commercial and designed to be able to ramp up production easily.Then there is an American project that is nearly there,plus 3 types of aircaft launched smallsat vehicles,one ( the Tristar one) is already mature,then you have the 747 Virgin one and finally that huge aircaft thing that may never fly.Cant really see that there is room for even more of these small sat launch vehicles.Probably going to be a bloodbath anyway.

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