Following the Space19+ ministerial conference, ESA has entrusted ArianeGroup with the launch of the first phase of development of the European first-stage demonstrator for the Themis reusable launch vehicle.
A demonstrator to prepare the launchers of the future
In accordance with the decision taken at the European Space Agency's Space19+ Ministerial Conference, held at the end of November 2019 in Seville, Spain, a first contract worth €33 million was signed on 15 December between ESA and ArianeGroup to begin the initial development phase of the Themis programme.
Themis is the reusable launcher first-stage demonstrator, based on the future Prometheus liquid methane oxygen engine, developed by ArianeGroup for ESA since June 2017. It is 30 metres high and has a diameter of 3.5 metres.
Themis will help advance key technologies and demonstrate reusability in Europe," said Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation. Themis will create additional options to lower the cost of access to space and increase European flexibility in the provision of launch services.
Themis' initial development phase will include preparation of the flight vehicle technologies, static firing tests starting next year in Vernon, Eure, the ground segment at the Esrange Space Centre near Kiruna, Sweden, which will host low altitude test flights (hop tests) in 2023, as well as any modifications to the flight vehicle.
Suborbital test flights are planned from 2023 onwards at the Guyana Space Centre.
As for the complete mission of the stage, which is to end with a landing on a barge off the Guyanese coast, it is scheduled for 2025.
Eighteen months of activity for ArianeWorks
Themis' concept study was conducted in less than a year by ArianeWorks, the joint innovation platform between ArianeGroup and the Cnes, which is currently celebrating its eighteenth month of activity.
A full article on the initial results obtained, accompanied by an interview with Charlotte Bakouche, head of business development for the programmes of the future at ArianeGroup and a member of the ArianeWorks team of innovators, will be published tomorrow in Air & Cosmos n°2715.