VERNON, France (Snecma PR) – The fifth development model (M5) of the Vinci® rocket engine designed by Snecma (Safran), has successfully completed its ground firing tests.
Vinci® is a new-generation cryogenic rocket engine – fueled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen – intended for the upper stages of the upcoming Ariane 5 ME and Ariane 6 launch vehicles. It can be restarted in flight, and develops three times more thrust than the HM7B engine now powering the upper stage of the current Ariane 5 ECA launcher.
The Vinci engine is being developed by Snecma (Safran) as prime contractor, leading a team of European partners within the scope of the European Space Agency’s development programs for the Ariane 5 ME (Midlife Evolution) and Ariane 6 launchers. Airbus Defence and Space is the industrial prime contractor for the development of these launchers.
The Vinci® M5 engine is fitted with subsystems very close to flight configuration, most of them to the last development standard. From September 2013 to August 2014, the M5 model underwent 16 firing tests totaling 5,987 seconds, or six times its operating time during an Ariane mission. It features a new igniter configuration, which passed its tests with flying colors; some tests involved up to four consecutive firing sequences.
The tests of the Vinci M5 development engine were carried out at the Lampoldshausen facility of German space agency DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt), on the P4.1 test rig, which duplicates the vacuum conditions of space. The complete analysis of the rich lode of data from these tests, along with the evaluation of the hardware, set to start now, will enable the configuration to be frozen for qualification engines, set for a critical design review (CDR) in November 2014.
“The dynamic and firing tests of the fifth Vinci development model enabled us to confirm the engine’s maturity and endurance, as well as its expected performance using subsystem configurations very close to flight models,” said David Quancard, head of Snecma’s Space Engines division. “The development of Vinci is continuing, in line with the technical and schedule objectives set by the European Space Agency, in particular engine qualification in early 2017.”
Including this latest series of tests, Vinci engines have now logged over 21,500 seconds of firing tests. The next step will be tests of the M6 and M7 development engines, targeting subsystem qualification. These tests will kick off in 2015 on the PF52 test rig at Snecma’s Vernon plant, and on the DLR’s P4.1 test rig in Lampoldshausen, respectively. The following year will see two series of engine qualification tests, conducted concurrently on these two rigs.
Snecma is part of Safran, an international high-technology group with three core businesses: aerospace, defence and security. Snecma designs, builds and sells propulsion systems for air and space, including a wide range of commercial engines that are powerful, reliable, economical and environmentally-friendly, led by the global best-seller CFM56 and the new-generation LEAP*. The company also makes world-class military aircraft engines, as well as rocket propulsion systems and equipment for satellites and launch vehicles. Snecma is a leading provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for civil and military aircraft engines, under the new EngineLife® brand, offering comprehensive support for customers around the world.
* CFM56 and LEAP engines are produced and marketed by CFM International, a 50/50 joint company of Snecma (Safran), France and GE of the United States.