ArianeGroup advances on Vinci, Prometheus
ArianeGroup has started production of the first flight model for the Vinci engine combustion chamber for Ariane 6 and is pushing ahead with development of the Prometheus low-cost engine demonstrator.
ArianeGroup — as Airbus Safran Launchers is now known — has started production of the first flight model for the Vinci engine combustion chamber intended for the Ariane 6 upper stage. Production is under way at the group’s Ottobrun site, near Munich.
Vinci is the restartable engine for the upper liquid propulsion module of Ariane 6. It was initially intended to equip the increased-performance Midlife Evolution (ME) version of Ariane 5, which was subsequently dropped in favour of Ariane 6.
It offers three times more thrust than the HM7 upper stage engine on Ariane 5. More than 120 tests have already been performed on Vinci development models. A hot fire test campaign was performed from May to September 2016.
The new restartable engine — featuring an extendable carbon ceramic nozzle deployed after first stage separation — will significantly increase the operational flexibility of the Ariane 6 launcher, which is due to make its first flight in 2020.
In other space propulsion news, ArianeGroup recently signed the first tranche of the development contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the Prometheus low-cost reusable engine demonstrator designed to pave the way for applications on European launchers as of 2030.
Running on liquid oxygen (LOx) and methane, Prometheus is designed to cut engine production costs by a factor of 10 compared with Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2.
The new contract marks the addition of European industrial partners to the Prometheus demonstrator project, including Avio (Italy), GKN (Sweden), Safran AeroBooster (Belgium), and the German and French entities of ArianeGroup.
The first tests are scheduled for 2020 in Lampoldhausen (Germany), on the site of the German aerospace agency (DLR).