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ArianeGroup develops reusable engine and light upper stage

Prometheus. Photo: ArianeGroup

Paris, 18 May 2021. – Lighter, less expensive and reusable: the European Space Agency (ESA) signed two contracts with ArianeGroup to develop the reusable low-cost Prometheus engine and the lighter Ariane 6 upper stage called Phoebus. The contracts have a value of €135 million and €14.6 million respectively.

Under the Prometheus contract, ArianeGroup pushes the development of a lighter and reusable Ariane engine which will deliver a thrust of 120 metric tons, compared with the current 100 tons, and which can achieve a tenfold reduction in cost, compared the existing Ariane 5 Vulcain 2 engine, ArianeGroup and ESA said.

It will also develop a liquid hydrogen version of the engine which could be used as of 2025 on an Ariane 6 upgrade, ArianeGroup said. 70% of the Prometheus engine will be built using the 3D printing facilities at the ArianeGroup site in Ottobrunn, Germany, the company said. The Prometheus demonstration phase will conclude with hot-fire tests of the first two prototypes on the DLR site in Lampoldshausen, Germany.

The Phoebus contract aims at the development of a lighter Ariane 6 upper stage; Phoebus stands for Prototype of a Highly OptimizEd Black UpperStage. The new carbon composite upper stage called ICARUS (Innovative Carbon ARiane Upper Stage) will be lighter than the current metal upper stage and will “further enhance the versatility and competitiveness of Ariane 6 in the next few years”, ArianeGroup said.

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