It sounds amazing at first, but the founders of the German rocket company HyImpulse Technologies are serious.

The start-up plans to launch a rocket with an unusual engine this year.

In addition to liquid oxygen, it should not use rocket kerosene as fuel, but eco-paraffin or, to put it simply, candle wax.

Experts call the mixture of liquid and solid a hybrid drive.

The company, founded in 2018, sees itself in a pioneering role in Europe with this special drive technology.

The technology is the "safest and cheapest", it said in a video conference.

Big competition in small rockets


In the future, HyImpulse wants to be involved in the future market for small rockets, which are currently being developed by start-up companies around the world and target the billion-dollar market for new small satellites in low orbits.

HyImpulse sees itself as the future express logistics company into space.

In Germany alone there are two competitors who are currently developing small rockets, albeit with conventional propulsion technology.

In addition to the Munich-based company IsarAerospace, there is the Rocket Factory Augsburg from the area around the Bremen-based OHB Group.

The HyImpulse bosses Mario Kobald (right) and Christian Schmierer want to get involved in the future market for small rockets

Source: HyImpulse

So far, little has been said about HyImpulse, based in Neuenstadt am Kocher near Heilbronn, about what is changing now.

The company plans to fire a first single-stage rocket (SR75) on a launch site in the Shetland Islands of Scotland this year.


It should rise to a height of 60 kilometers.

A second launch is planned for the end of the year or the beginning of 2022 - then up to the space limit of 100 kilometers.

This means that HyImpulse could time out its German competitors.

The final three-stage SL1 rocket is said to be around 28 meters high and two meters in diameter.

The total weight is 42 tons, the payload is 500 kilos.

The rocket is scheduled to take off for the first time in 2023.

The specialty are the hybrid engines.

The idea of ​​coupling liquid oxygen carriers and solid fuel to generate thrust is not entirely new.

The German rocket Barbarella, which was launched in the Baltic Sea and has landed in the Deutsches Museum today, flew in this way as early as 1974.

At that time, red fuming nitric acid was used as an oxygen carrier.


In the United States, for example, the space tourist vehicle SpaceShip Two owned by billionaire Richard Branson, which is about to enter the market, uses a hybrid engine.

Put simply, this uses tire rubber as fuel.

Safe start-up emissions

HyImpulse relies on paraffin / candle wax.

This is actually a residue from the petroleum industry, but it can also be produced using green hydrogen in an environmentally friendly and CO2-neutral manner, according to the company.

The environmental aspect is a sales argument for HyImpulse.

The drive is "efficient, harmless, non-toxic and easy to use," says start-up co-boss Christian Schmierer.

The rocket can practically not explode in a fireball, which also reduces insurance costs.

The exhaust gases at the start are harmless.

The company has succeeded in finding a solution to the previous disadvantages of hybrid drives, such as insufficient performance.

The four HyImpulse founders are not newcomers to the profession and can point to successes.

The start-up is a spin-off of the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

In September 2020, the first airworthy hybrid rocket engine with 75 kilonewtons of thrust was tested.

HyImpulse now has 50 employees.

At the end of the year it could be 100.

The company's founders still hold the majority in the company.

The largest single shareholder is the Schwarz Holding of the Munich entrepreneur Rudolf Schwarz, whose group also includes the aerospace test group IABG.

It is noteworthy that HyImpulse already provides a kind of price list and flight plan.

In the case of the three-stage SL1 rocket, which is to fly from 2023, the kilo of payload will initially cost 16,000 euros or eight million euros in total.

With more and more launches, the costs are to be reduced to 3.5 million euros by 2030.

Political backing

Six launches are expected in 2025, with more than 30 launches annually from 2030.

"We are creating scheduled air traffic in space transport," says HyImpulse co-boss Mario Kobald.

While a launch customer for a satellite currently has to wait an average of 128 days for the rocket to take off, HyImpulse wants to shorten the waiting time to 30 days.

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In any case, HyImpulse has the backing of politics.

In the video conference, the coordinator of the Federal Government for Aerospace, Thomas Jarzombek, referred to the innovative strength of start-up companies compared to the established large corporations.

The start-up scene is "the answer to SpaceX," said the CDU politician, referring to the large US space company owned by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk.

The development of corona vaccines also showed what innovations start-up companies are capable of.