The South African First Integrated Rocket Engine (SAFFIRE) is a paper design study started by ASRI on a modular and compact liquid propellant rocket engine. Rapid advances in pico-satellite technology have led to a growing interest in smaller launch vehicles that can rapidly deploy cubeSats to low Earth orbit (LEO) at low cost. For countries like South Africa, with fledgling satellite industries but no launch capacity, the outsourcing of payload delivery to foreign providers is costly and can also lead to unanticipated delays. This raises the question of whether South Africa should develop an indigenous commercial launch vehicle. 

The Commercial Launch Vehicle (CLV), for which SAFFIRE is being developed, would consist of two stages, with adjusted nozzle design, for the second stage. The vehicle payload capacity is 200 kg to accommodate at least 15 cubeSats (including the auxiliary equipment needed to deploy them) to a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit. 

SAFFIRE is designed to be a compact engine that can be utilised in multiple configurations for a variety of launch vehicles. One of the potential uses of the engine is to provide small-sat launch vehicle capabilities on the continent of Africa. 

Technical Specifications

  • 27.6 kN Thrust.
  • Total mass flow rate of 10 kg/s.
  • 35 bar Chamber Pressure.