The European Space Agency (ESA) has settled on the basic design of the Ariane 6, the first of many steps towards the development of a launch vehicle to succeed the next generation heavy-lift Ariane 5, to keep pace with new developments in China, Russia, India and the U.S.
A rocket propelled cheaper and less onerous than today’s Ariane 5, the Ariane 6 is set to run fast, low cost of development and a reduced introductory price of € 70 million ($ 90 million).
But despite a clear bias towards affordability, remains to be seen whether the 20-nation ESA Ariane can construct six search competitive while working for major financial sponsors, particularly Germany, which funds 20% of the Ariane 5 .
“There is much work now to be done in this setting, to see who can produce what at what price,” said Antonio Fabrizi, responsible for launching the vehicle direction of ESA. “Only in the coming months, industry data, we will check if it is in line with the goal or not.”
The new design, known as “Multi-linear P” comprises a first step of three solid fuel boosters, a second stage driven by an almost identical booster and third resettable cryogenic stage. This stage is based on the Vinci engine is developing engines Snecma Safran division as part of a renovation 5 midlife Ariane 5ME.
Although less capable than the Ariane 5, which can deliver two charges weigh a combined total of 9,000 kg (20,000 pounds) of geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), the Ariane 6 release single loads and is designed to be less dependent on the commercial market of the equilibrium point.
French space agency CNES, which is expected to finance half of Ariane 6 development, has spent several years studying the designs that could be developed quickly for about € 4 billion. In the past six months, the project teams from ESA and CNES CNES weighed concepts based on initial designs called for a modular rocket that could result from 2.000 to 6.500 kg of GTO, with the potential to grow lifting capacity up to 8,000 kg.
Each of the designs was to incorporate a cryogenic 34 tons 4.4 meters diameter. (14.4 feet). Third stage based on an adapted version of Vinci upper stage and a common payload fairing similar to the Ariane 5 and deorbit kit third-stage included in the performance metrics.
In June, the teams had narrowed the focus to two: one with a main case scenario for a good fit, unique, solid fuel, and a second design based on a concept of cluster that includes three solid rocket propellant room topped by almost identical .
Fabrizi said last month that the latter seems more affordable. “The group offers higher rates of production of engines, with a lower cost for each engine,” he said as part of the launch in June 5 Automated Transfer Vehicle Europe (ATV-4) from the Guiana Space Centre Europe in Kourou. “But there are complications with the building integration of the group, so we have to make the trade.”
End of the ESA concept, unveiled July 09, is a non-linear modular version of the cluster concept would lead GTO 3.000 to 6.500 kg and is designed to maximize in common with the Ariane 5 ME and light pitching Vega of Italy. Besides Vinci engine, the Ariane 6 will incorporate a diameter-5.4. Payload housing to accommodate the same volume as the Ariane 5 satellites and P135 are based on solid fuel boosters are in the range of what has been demonstrated with Vega first stage engine P80.
ESA says this design “Multi P Linear” could facilitate the development of a more powerful engine for future developments P120 Vega, reducing production costs, improve performance and make the rocket more competitive in the commercial smallsat.
Unlike the concept of a single reinforcement, however, P Multi P135 drivers incorporate linear thrust vector control (TVC), a feature that is expected to increase costs.
“You have to TVC and all these stages, so it is inevitable a little more expensive,” Christophe Bonnal, technical specialist with CNES, said in Naples, Italy, last fall.
However, Fabrizi says more development risk was associated with higher reinforcement only, a factor that could prolong Ariane 6 development beyond the entry date of 2021 selective service. “If something is more complex to develop, take a risk in getting the market,” he tells.
With the basic design established, the next step is to solicit proposals from the industry this month based on the linear concept P Multi order to compare the cost of competitive development, to be presented to the ministers of the ESA next year.
“I will organize a competition first,” says ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain, a plan that precludes a rule of agency guarantee 90% return of investment geographically through participation industry. “I have no chance to get the best product for the price because I’m in the hands of a monopoly situation. Want industrial serious proposals first. If they are competitive, I’m ready to make a launcher that is 60% German.”