H2020 FALCon: Formation flight for in-Air Launcher 1st stage Capturing demonstration


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Formation flight for in-Air Launcher 1st stage Capturing demonstration

The FALcon project is focused on further developing launch system reusability technologies and in particular the “in-air capturing” concept for the efficient retrieval of rocket stages with the aim of further lowering cost for the next generation of European launchers.

This innovative procedure proposed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) consists in capturing automatically a winged reusable stage by a transport aircraft while still in the air, and towing it back to the vicinity of its landing site.

The objective within the FALcon project is to further develop a technical concept for a “rocket catcher” that is as detailed as possible, and to conduct tests using small demonstrators to test autonomous in-flight capture and towing.

CFD simulations and wind tunnel tests will be performed at VKI in preparation for the “in-air-capturing” experimental flight demonstration, as well as full-scale “in-air-capturing” CFD simulations of formation flight.

Project information

Project start date: March 1st 2019

Duration: 36 months

EU grant: EUR 2 599 226,25

Project Coordinator: DLR

Partners: Astos Solutions Romania, DLR, Drone Rescue Systems, Embention, IMech-BAS, soft2tec, the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI)


Partners in the FALcon project


EU FlagThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under Grant Agreement no. 821953.