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German company launches candle wax-powered rocket on test flight into space

German company launches candle wax-powered rocket on test flight into space
HyImpulse factory. Image: HyImpulse Technologies GmbH / ©ESA

BERLIN, May 3 (Reuters) - German company HyImpulse successfully launched on Friday a candle wax-powered rocket capable of carrying commercial satellites on a test suborbital flight into space for the first time.

“We’re signalling Germany’s prowess as a spacefaring nation and expanding Europe’s access to space,” HyImpulse’s chief executive Mario Kobald said in a statement.

The 12-metre, 2.5-tonne test rocket dubbed “SR75” lifted off shortly after 0500 GMT from a launch site in Koonibba, South Australia.

It is capable of carrying small satellites weighing up to 250 kg (551 pounds) to an altitude of up to 250 km (155 miles) while being fuelled by paraffin, or candle wax, and liquid oxygen.

Paraffin can be used as a cheaper and safer alternative fuel for rockets, reducing satellite transportation costs by as much as 50%, according to HyImpulse.

The company, which has 65 employees and was spun off from Germany’s space agency DLR, said it already had orders for satellite transportation worth 100 million euros ($105 million).

The project was mostly privately financed with “some public backing”, the startup’s statement said.

Hyimpulse aims to expand as demand for commercial satellites grows, and it is eyeing 700 million euros worth of annual sales by 2032.

By the end of next year, it plans to launch “SL-1”, a larger, multi-stage rocket capable of deploying satellites weighing up to 600 kg into low Earth orbits.

(Reporting by Hakan Ersen, Writing by Andrey Sychev, Editing by Friederike Heine and Gareth Jones)

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