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Defence Industry and Space
News article25 January 20223 min read

EIC Horizon Prize on a Low Cost Space Launch: Commission awards € 10 million to Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH

The winner of this ambitious initiative has finally been revealed by Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market at the 14th European Space Conference.


The winner of this ambitious initiative has finally been revealed by Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market at the 14th European Space Conference. Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH has been awarded the €10 million EIC Horizon Prize on a Low Cost Space Launch for their Independent Space Access for the European Revolution in Orbit solution. It features the development of Spectrum, a high-performance launch vehicle based on clean propulsion and specifically designed for light satellites.

Isar Aerospace developed an innovative and green solution that complements existing launch capabilities in Europe, for their technical maturity and credible and sustainable business plan.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said:

This prize shows the important of innovation for space technology. It represents a step ahead in our ambition to stimulate innovation and reinforce an autonomous access to space. Their solution will greatly contribute to supporting our European ambitions in space for an autonomous, reliable and cost-effective access to space”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:

“Congratulations to Isar Aerospace Technologies the winner of the EIC Horizon prize for low cost space launch, which will stimulate European leadership in this deep tech sector. Support for space research and innovation will be further strengthened through Horizon Europe to boost excellence and leadership throughout Europe.”

The finalists were announced on 18 January 2022, notably Payload Aerospace SL and Rocket Factory Augsburg AG. At the award ceremony, representatives from these two European SMEs were also present.

The prize is funded under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme, as part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. It rewards the most innovative, cost-effective and commercially viable solution for launching light satellites into Low-Earth Orbit, which promotes European technology non-dependence.

Space technology, data services and applications have become indispensable in the daily lives of Europeans and for the Union to achieve its policy objectives. Light satellites are crucial to improve space-based connectivity, internet services, Earth imaging and positioning. According to market studies, launch service demand for light satellites is expected to increase significantly in the next few years.

Micro launcher solutions like the one developed by Isar Aerospace contribute to establishing services for regular launches dedicated to light satellites. These are crucial to achieve EU internal market growth in the manufacturing of launch systems, light satellites and consequent development of space-based downstream services and applications for the benefit of European citizens.

Furthermore, such solutions contribute to improving competitiveness of the EU space industry, reinforce Europe's strategic autonomy in accessing space and strengthen European position in export markets globally in the field of light satellites and micro launchers.


Under its pilot version, the European Innovation Council (EIC) promoted several Horizon Prizes to be awarded to the most innovative solutions to societal challenges. These prizes call for breakthrough solutions that demonstrate their feasibility or potential, so that innovators can take them quickly to the market and reach those in need. EIC Horizon Prize are funded under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation that preceded Horizon Europe.

The EIC Horizon Prize for Low Cost Space Launch was launched on 12 June 2018. The deadline for application to this prize was 1 June 2021. The eligible applications were evaluated and ranked by a high-level Jury of independent experts identified for their extensive experience and competence in the industry.

The three highest scoring applications were selected as finalists and invited to demonstrate their solution through a virtual on-site visit and hearing meeting with the Jury.

More information

Link to the video of the winner

Link to relevant webpage.

EIC Space Launch Prize Factsheet




Publication date
25 January 2022