Raumfahrt - ESA´s zukünftige Ariane 6 -Update-6





Artist's view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64)

This has been an intense year for Ariane 6 development, with progress boosted across Europe: plants are manufacturing new parts using novel methods, all engines have been tested, and the construction of launch facilities is well underway.

ESA has worked with an industrial network led by prime contractor ArianeGroup, of more than 600 companies in 13 European countries, including 350 small- and medium-sized enterprises, to fine-tune the design and start production. Meanwhile, France’s CNES space agency has been preparing its launch facilities at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Details on all these activities were recently shared at the 69th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany – downloadable here (.pdf) – along with two papers submitted to the congress: launch system (.pdf) and launcher system (.pdf), here are the highlights.

Ariane 6 possible missions and configurations

Europe’s new Ariane 6 launcher covers a broad range of commercial and institutional applications while dramatically decreasing the cost of launches compared to Ariane 5.

Enabled by ESA’s Light satellite Low-cost Launch opportunity Initiative, a multiple launch service for small satellites starting mid-2021 will offer cost-effective launch opportunities for satellites of under 400 kg, via a rideshare approach on launchers such as Ariane 6, and its smaller cousin Vega-C.

The Ariane 6’s core stage is powered by Vulcain 2.1, an upgraded engine derived from Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2; its upper stage is powered by the reignitable Vinci engine. Two or four P120C solid-fuel boosters for Ariane 6, common with Vega-C, will be strapped on to provide thrust at liftoff.

The P120C and Vulcain 2.1 development models have started their ground testing, the Vinci is now qualified. This leads to the next significant milestone: the delivery of the Ariane 6 qualification model, to start combined tests in French Guiana at the end of 2019.

The second P120C model will be tested in French Guiana early next year, to verify its design and performance.

The Ariane 6 upper stage will be tested at the DLR German Aerospace Center newly developed P5.2 test facility in Lampoldshausen at the end of 2019.

Quelle: ESA


Update: 16.05.2019


Prototype Ariane 6 carbon-composite upper stage gets ESA funding



WASHINGTON — The European Space Agency gave contracts to ArianeGroup and MT Aerospace on May 14 to develop a prototype upper stage that could lead to an advanced carbon-composite upgrade for the Ariane 6 rocket.

ArianeGroup, the Franco-German company building Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket, and subcontractor MT Aerospace of Augsburg, Germany, received funding repurposed from a previously scuttled Ariane 6 project to instead develop the “Prototype of a Highly Optimized Black Upper Stage,” or PHOEBUS.

ESA member states decided last May to reallocate 70 million euros ($78.4 million at current exchange rates) to lightweight upper stage technologies and keep production of the P120C strap-on booster in Italy rather than spending it on creating a second production line in Germany. Those funds, provided by Germany, are being channeled into the two PHOEBUS contracts, as well as other programs, Jérôme Breteau, head of ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Program, told SpaceNews.

Breteau said by email that the majority of the PHOEBUS program is funded, with a small amount expected to come from ESA’s ministerial conference this November in Seville, Spain, where its 22 member states will decide on funding levels for current and future programs.

An upper stage built with carbon-composite materials instead of aluminum could lower the price of Ariane 6 launches while increasing the amount it can carry to geosynchronous orbit by up to two metric tons, according to ESA.

Guenther Hoerbst, a spokesperson for OHB, the parent company of MT Aerospace, said the company received 8.6 million euros from ESA for the PHOEBUS program. The company will focus on developing carbon-composite tanks and cryogenic structures.

ArianeGroup declined to state the value of its contract. ESA tasked ArianeGroup with working on “innovative stage architectures and system integration,” according to a company news release.

ArianeGroup and MT Aerospace said PHOEBUS prototype technologies will be integrated into a demonstrator in 2021 to test compatibility with liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuels.

The PHOEBUS prototype sets the stage for a future Ariane 6 upper stage called Icarus — the Innovative Carbon Ariane Upper Stage — that would be made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. ESA says Icarus could be ready for Ariane 6 by 2025 if fully funded. Ariane 6’s maiden flight is in mid-2020.

Breteau said the final funding level would also determine how much more performance the upgraded rocket stage can provide. Last year former ArianeGroup CEO Alain Charmeau said the target was to increase Ariane 6’s launch capability by one metric ton. ESA and industry’s new goal is around double that amount.

ESA said a decision on Icarus funding will be made at the ministerial conference.

Quelle: SN


Update: 2.10.2019


Ariane 6's core engine completes qualification tests


Ariane 6, Europe's next-generation launch vehicle, has passed another key development milestone. Its Vulcain 2.1 liquid-fuelled engine has now completed its qualification testing, which means combined tests can now begin.

The main stage Vulcain 2.1 engine will deliver 135 t of thrust to propel Ariane 6 in the first eight minutes of flight up to an altitude of 200 km.

A review last week marked the culmination of two Vulcain static firing test campaigns over 15 months on two demonstration models in test facilities at the DLR German Aerospace Center test facility in Lampoldshausen.

The final qualification static firing test of Vulcain 2.1 in July lasted almost 11 minutes (655 seconds). This completed a total of 13,798 seconds of operation, or nearly four hours with a controlled engine, using Ariane 6 flight actuators to gimbal the engine.

"These very positive results confirm the functional and mechanical behaviour of Vulcain 2.1. The upcoming combined tests will qualify Ariane 6 subsystems at stage and launcher level," commented Guy Pilchen, ESA's Ariane 6 launcher project manager.

The engine will be refurbished for dynamic and vibration tests. Combined tests using a fully representative main stage at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, will finally qualify the Ariane 6 core stage for flight.

Completion of the Vulcain 2.1 and Vinci qualification tests represent a major step forward in the Ariane 6 development.

The qualifying tests for the Vinci re-ignitable engine, which will power the launcher's upper stage, were completed in October 2018. Vinci will be integrated with the complete upper stage for tests at Lampoldshausen.

The next step for large propulsion systems is the static firing in French Guiana of the final qualification model of Ariane 6's P120C solid fuel booster. This test will define the acceleration profile for the launcher and will consequently allow engineers to pursue the preparation of the upcoming flights.

Quelle: SD 
Update: 9.10.2020

Final hot firing proves P120C booster for Ariane 6


The qualification model of the P120C motor configured for Ariane 6, has been static fired on the test stand at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana in a final test to prove its readiness for flight.

Advanced features make this new motor a pivotal achievement of European industry. It is an example of innovative thinking and optimisation that allows Europe to equip two very different launch vehicles with the same solid rocket motor.

Depending on the configuration, two or four P120C boosters will be strapped onto the sides of the future Ariane 6 heavy-lift rocket, the P120C will also serve as the first stage of the smaller Vega-C launch vehicle.

This huge P120C motor was filled with 142 tonnes of solid propellant inside its 13.5 m long and 3.4 m diameter casing and was moved from the integration building to the dedicated stand used for testing solid propulsion stages.

After ignition it burned for 130 seconds, delivering a maximum thrust of about 4500 kN simulating liftoff and the first phase of flight. No anomalies were seen and, according to initial recorded data, the performance met expectations. A full analysis of these test results and inspection of all components will confirm readiness of this motor for the debut launch of Ariane 6.

“This firing of the P120C motor paves the way for its use on Ariane 6. It is proof of the hard work and dedication of all the teams involved who have made this test possible despite the COVID-19 crisis. This accomplishes an important milestone towards flight,” commented Stefano Bianchi, Head of Space Transportation Development at ESA.

P120C transfer to test stand
P120C transfer to test stand

Avio in Italy built this motor case in one piece by winding carbon-fibre composite for a strong and rigid lightweight shell casing. ArianeGroup in France developed the advanced P120C nozzle, while Nammo in Norway provided the igniter. The propellant was cast by Regulus in French Guiana. Advanced manufacturing techniques have been incorporated by Europropulsion in horizontal robotic integration of the nozzle too. Efficient production methods have shortened production cycles and optimised costs. 

Europropulsion built three models of the P120C for testing: a development model (DM) configured for Vega-C; a first qualification model (QM1) also configured for Vega-C; and a second qualification model (QM2) configured for Ariane 6.

This hot firing of QM2 is the third and final test of the P120C. It follows the test of the development model in July 2018 and the first qualification model in January 2019.

The test stand was modified with some specific mechanical and avionics adaptations for the Ariane 6 configuration. This test aimed to observe increased performance characterised by a higher burning rate in a shorter combustion time than in the DM and QM1 motors.

The environmental impacts of every P120C test are measured in a similar way to any launch. Air quality and water pollution are checked in real time around the test bench, in the cities of Kourou and Sinnamary, and at launch observation sites. The measurements are then analysed by the Institut Pasteur.

All measurements on this test so far, indicate an extremely low impact on the ecosystem. This is also thanks to the strict meteorological constraints on wind speed at sea level and at certain altitudes, and the required absence of rain.

Completion of this test is an important achievement and maintains the development schedule for Ariane 6 and Vega-C. The ‘Ground Qualification Review 2’ of all the data collected will finally confirm this motor is qualified for use on Ariane 6.

Ariane 6 will extend Europe’s capabilities to independently access space and offer more opportunities for the commercial and institutional market worldwide while reducing costs.

ESA, France’s CNES space agency, and Europropulsion which is jointly owned by Avio and ArianeGroup, collaborated on this test.

The second qualification model of the P120C solid rocket motor, configured for Ariane 6, completed its hot firing on 7 October 2020 at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 20.09.2021
Combined tests start for Ariane 6 at Europe's Spaceport
Ariane 6 is designed to extend guaranteed access to space for Europe and will be capable of carrying out all types of missions to all orbits. It features a modular design with two versions: Ariane 62, fitted with two strap-on boosters, and Ariane 64, with four.

Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana is performing the first combined test in preparation for the inaugural flight of Ariane 6, Europe's new generation launch vehicle.

This test confirms the operations and electrical and mechanical equipment required for integration of the upper part of the launch vehicle. The procedures are carried out in conditions representative of a launch campaign. A major step of this test involves the closure of the Ariane 6 fairing around the payload.

Preparations started in May 2021 with a de-risking campaign of the mechanical operations.

The fairing, built by Ruag Space in Switzerland, stands 20 m high and 5.4 m in diameter. It protects payloads from the thermal, acoustic and aerodynamic stresses on the ascent to space.

This combined test was performed using a new integration dock, composed of a large white frame, with two mobile platforms adjustable to any level and accessible by fixed stairs and platforms, developed by the French space agency, CNES.

The assembly building has two halls: one for integration of the fairing and another where the payload is stowed in the fairing. This encapsulation area is a spacious clean room for Ariane 6.

These activities are part of extensive 'combined tests' at the Spaceport by ESA, CNES, ArianeGroup and other industry partners. They will prove the systems and procedures to prepare Europe's new Ariane 6 launch vehicle for flight.

ESA oversees the implementation and management of verification and qualification activities up to and including the first flight of Ariane 6 before handing over to the exploitation authority.

Ariane 6 is designed to extend guaranteed access to space for Europe and will be capable of carrying out all types of missions to all orbits. It features a modular design with two versions: Ariane 62, fitted with two strap-on boosters, and Ariane 64, with four.

Quelle: SD


Update: 30.09.2021


Ariane 6 launch complex inaugurated at Europe’s Spaceport

The new launch complex built for Europe’s upcoming Ariane 6 rocket is inaugurated at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

With this, ESA celebrates another important milestone in the Ariane 6 roadmap as it forges ahead with combined tests between launch vehicle and launch base and preparations towards the first launch campaign.

Clearly visible from space, the facilities feature remarkable complex structures above and below ground specially designed to support Ariane 6 launches into the next decade. It is the proud achievement of the French space agency, CNES – prime contractor to ESA for the development of the launch base, and its European industry partners.

Ariane 6 with four boosters
Ariane 6 with four boosters

The Ariane 6 programme is funded and developed by ESA. This new launch vehicle will replace Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5. Available in two versions, with either two or four boosters, Ariane 6 will offer more performance and flexibility than its predecessor. This opens new opportunities and guarantees continued access to space for ESA Member States.

The Ariane 6 launch complex is a marvel of engineering, designed to optimise the launch system performance and operations workflow. Its design benefits from lessons learned in the construction and operation of the existing Ariane, Vega and Soyuz launch complexes at the spaceport.

The main elements include the launch pad with two exhaust ducts, the mobile gantry and the launch vehicle assembly building.


Ariane 6 launch complex

The launch pad is 28.5 m deep and 200 m wide. Its basic structure was poured in concrete the volume of 67 Olympic-sized swimming pools. At its centre is the launch table which weighs 700 tonnes and is 4 m high, 20 m long, and 18 m wide. This structure was built in Europe by MT Aerospace in Germany and shipped to Kourou for integration on the launch pad. Below ground it protects a host of support systems and will bear the weight of Ariane 6.

Ariane 6’s final integration will take place inside a mobile gantry, just like Soyuz and Vega. The mobile gantry was manufactured in Europe by Eiffage Metal in Germany and was assembled at the spaceport. It will protect Ariane 6 on the launch table during each launch campaign.

Mobile gantry
Mobile gantry

This 90 m-high by 50 m-wide gantry weighs 8200 t – more than a thousand tonnes heavier than France's Eiffel Tower. Work platforms will enable engineers to access the vehicle levels to vertically position Ariane 6’s central core directly on the launch table, add two or four boosters depending on the launch configuration, and integrate the fairing that houses the payload. The gantry retracts 140 m on rails before launch. If the launch is delayed the gantry can be rolled back in place to allow access to Ariane 6 before its next launch attempt.

Mockup of the Ariane 6 core stage in the launch vehicle assembly building
Mockup of the Ariane 6 core stage in the launch vehicle assembly building

The Ariane 6 core and upper stages will be integrated horizontally inside the launch vehicle assembly building and prepared for rollout to the launch zone. The building is 20 m tall, 112 m long and 41 m wide, some 1 km from the launch zone.

Horizontal integration lowers the cost of facilities and launcher integration while offering a higher level of flexibility and growth potential and allowing easier access to the whole rocket. Overall, the improved Ariane 6 approach to integration and operations will reduce the duration of a launch campaign from months to weeks.

ESA’s contract with CNES for the launch base development worth €600 million was signed in 2015. CNES allocated a third of this funding to infrastructure with notable involvement of local industry for construction, materials and equipment, and the remainder to contracts in mainland Europe.

The systems that are part of the main launch complex structures are being qualified. For example, the deluge system which will protect Ariane 6 and ground installations from the acoustic energy created at liftoff was tested. The disconnection of the fluidic systems for Ariane 6 on the launch pad, tested in France, are now being tested on the launch pad. A central core mockup was used to test ground equipment and practise the manoeuvres involved in a launch campaign. France’s space agency (CNES) and ArianeGroup teams jointly performed these tests under the responsibility of ESA.

Further combined tests between launcher and launch base are under way.

Ariane 6 launch complex processing
Ariane 6 launch complex processing

“The Ariane 6 launch complex is a remarkable achievement and an icon of European cooperation and advancement. It represents a vital part of a programme of intense activity at Europe’s Spaceport to prepare for the first flight of ESA’s next generation launch vehicle,” commented Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation.

The inauguration was held in the presence of Sébastien Lecornu, French Minister of the Overseas, Philippe Baptiste, President Director General of CNES, and Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation. Also present were industry partners André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, and Gabriel Serville, President of the Territorial Collectivity of French Guiana.

Quelle: ESA

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