Video of First Hot Fire of P120C Motor for Vega-C and Ariane 6

Video Caption: The hot firing of the development model of the P120C solid fuel rocket motor at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 16 July 2018, proves the design for use on Vega-C next year and on Ariane 6 from 2020.

The P120C is 13.5 m long and 3.4 m in diameter, and uses solid fuel in a case made of carbon composite material built in a single segment.

It will replace the current P80 as the first stage motor of Vega-C. Two or four P120Cs will be strapped onto Ariane 6 as boosters for liftoff.

This test was a collaboration between ESA, France’s CNES space agency, and Europropulsion under contract to Avio and ArianeGroup.

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  • Jeff2Space

    Impressive motor. But I have to wonder how economically successful large solid rocket motors are going to be in the launch vehicle market in the 2020s.

  • Cool. Looks like an awesome motor.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    IIRC there is a limit to the number of large monolithic solid motor that can be filled with propellants at the launch site annually one motor at a time. AIUI large solid motor production requires a large standing army of workers. So what ever the initial cost of acquiring a flight capable large solid motor will not likely go down in cost. Quite the opposite if the labor cost goes up.

    According to the GAO the current Vega launcher cost about $38M to get about 1960 kg to LEO. So in theory a dual manifested flight proven Falcon 9 B5 at $50M is a lot cheaper than two Vega launches. Of course each Falcon 9 B5 flight should be able to loft up to 10 Vega size payloads to LEO.

    The Ariane 64 will likely to be a second tier or even a third tier commercial launcher if the SX and BO launchers are in service in the mid 2020s. IMO