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PLD Space and Repsol develop renewable fuels for micro-launchers

PLD Space, the leading European company in the micro-launcher industry, and Repsol have signed a pioneering collaboration agreement to jointly develop renewable fuels for space vehicles.

Repsol Tech Lab

The agreement includes both feasibility studies to replace current fuels with others produced with sustainable raw materials, as well as the design of new renewable fuels, which will be tailor-made in the Repsol Technology Lab for the rocket propellants manufactured by PLD Space, specifically for the MIURA recoverable micro-launchers. In this way, both companies are making progress towards the European Union's goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

With this agreement, the two companies are revolutionizing the future of rocket fuels, which currently use liquid kerosene similar to that used in civil aviation, or a specific rocket fuel called RP-1.

Repsol will formulate the new fuels from renewable or recycled raw materials, specifically, from advanced biofuels made from waste as raw material or using synthetic fuels that are produced from renewable hydrogen and CO2 removed from the atmosphere. In this way, a reduction of the carbon footprint of up to 90% or even negative is achieved.

Raúl Verdú, CBDO and Co-founder of PLD Space, has pointed out that "we were the first company in Europe to publicly commit to the recovery of its micro-launchers as proof of its commitment to the environment. We want to continue researching all the alternatives that allow us to reduce our carbon footprint, also in propulsion”.

Javier Aríztegui, Repsol's Senior Product Design Manager at Repsol Technology Lab, sees this project as "a great opportunity, as Repsol will apply the deep knowledge it has acquired over the years in the formulation of all types of fuels, including racing fuels, to develop a sustainable fuel for space vehicles. It is a challenge, and we feel prepared to face it successfully."

PLD Space orbital micro-launcher MIURA 5

PLD Space is developing two reusable micro-launchers, the suborbital MIURA 1 and orbital MIURA 5, intended to provide commercial launch services to customers worldwide. Its family of liquid-fueled engines, called TEPREL, is powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen (KeroLOX). For MIURA 1, the firm currently uses Jet-A1 fuel, the fuel commonly used in aviation, while the propellant -the combination of a fuel and the comburent, which is usually oxygen- planned for MIURA 5 is RP-1, the standard for rocket engines.

“One of the challenges of the project is to maintain the same level of performance of the MIURA micro-launchers," says PLD Space Propulsion Manager, Francesco Spalletta. "Our responsibility is to maintain the vehicle performance while minimizing its environmental impact.”