Avio reports it has completed operational tests for the first P120C sold rocket motor booster casing, which will be used on the new Ariane 6 and Vega C launch vehicles.
“The mechanical tests were carried out using a platform specifically designed and built to simulate the actual conditions of a space launch: pressurization inside the combustion chamber, engine thrust and mechanical loads resulting from the launcher’s operational phases,” the Italian company said in a press release.
“The technological casing, equipped and complete with instrumentation, was subjected to a test cycle up to the maximum engine operating pressure as well as a series of axial load cycles, which demonstrated that the prototype fully corresponded to engineering predictions for its mechanical behaviour,” the company added.
Vega C is set for its first launch in 2019. Ariane 6 is scheduled for the following year.
There’s was some good news this week for Airbus Safran Launchers and Arianespace, which were looking for a guaranteed number of orders for their new boosters.
The European Commission will commit to buying at least five Ariane 6 and two Vega C launches per year when both rockets are in operation, Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European Commission’s lead space commissioner, said Wednesday….
“We will aggregate our institutional launches to support those two launchers,” she said…
Bienkowska also said Europe’s confidence in the suitability of Ariane 6 and Vega C, both of which are single-use rockets, remains unshaken by the early success of SpaceX and Blue Origin in demonstrating their reusable rockets.
“We observe very closely the ongoing revolution in the launcher market, especially here in the United States, around the principle of reusability,” she said. “Europe’s answer is the development of the next-generation of cost effective, reliable and competitive European launchers: Ariane 6 and Vega C.”
The launch orders will be aggregated from the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat and various national space agencies.
Ariane 6, which is the successor to Ariane 5, is expected to begin flight tests in 2020. The booster is designed to lift payloads weighing up to 10.5 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit.
The Vega C will be an upgraded version of the Vega booster, which can place payloads weighing up to 2.5 tonnes into orbit. The Vega C’s capacity will be increased by at least 300 kg. The booster will use a first stage engine being developed for Ariane 6.
As it ramps up development of the Ariane 6, Airbus Safran Launchers is looking for a guarantee from European governmental bodies to order a set number of flights per year.
The company estimates that European government demand for launches accounts for only 27 percent of Arianespace’s launch activity, with the rest coming from the commercial sector. The U.S. market is 65-percent government demand, going largely to domestic launch providers, and the Russian market is 76-percent government, according to Airbus Safran Launchers numbers.
“The target now is to try to federate the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat and national agencies for similar applications so that we organize a production order to be awarded to Arianespace as quickly as possible in order to give European industry a minimum critical mass for production of Ariane 6, and the same for Vega C,” [CEO Alain] Charmeau explained.
He said Airbus Safran Launchers is seeking a commitment of five Ariane 6 launches per year, and believes a commitment of two Vega C launches a year for Italy’s Avio would constitute enough demand to provide stability. Charmeau said demand for launches of European satellites is rising and should make this an attainable target.
“We anticipate a slight increase in institutional requirements in line with the increasing space budget in Europe, both at the European Commission level and ESA level, which means that there will be more programs, more satellites and therefore more launch services,” he said.
While Elon Musk and SpaceX have been dominating the media spotlight with their spectacular Falcon 9 first-stage landings and even more spectacular launch pad firexplanomaly, Arianespace has quietly went about the task of putting satellites into orbit and signing new launch contracts.
Ministers from 22 ESA member countries approved a multi-year spending plan of €10.3 billion ($11 billion) for the European space agency, a reduction from the €11 billion ($11.74 billion) that Director General Jan Dietrich Woerner had sought.
The budget includes an extension of the International Space Station to 2020 to 2024. ESA was the last of the international partners to approve the extension after the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.
COLLEFERRO, Italy (AVIO PR) — About a hundred of the main European experts in space launchers gathered at Colleferro, near Rome, for a project in which the AVIO Group has a leading role both for the new space motors and especially for the VEGA C orbital launcher.
PARIS (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace is targeting another busy year of activity in 2016 – continuing its launch services excellence by performing up to 11 missions utilizing Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, while reinforcing its international marketplace competitiveness with commercial offers that combine the company’s attributes of reliability, availability and price.
COLLEFERRO, Italy (AVIO PR) — Pierluigi Pirrelli, Chief Executive Officer of ELV, and Gaële Winters, ESA Director of Launchers, European Space Agency, signed today in Paris the contract for the development of VEGA C. Other two contracts were signed today by ESA, one for the Ariane 6 new generation launcher and one for its launch base.
The signing ceremony was held at ESA headquarters in Paris at the presence of the newly-appointed Director General Johann-Dietrich Woerner, and of the representatives of the major European national space agencies, including representatives of ASI and of the representatives of the main industries in the launcher business segment.
PARIS (ESA PR) — Today, ESA signed contracts for the development of the Ariane 6 new‑generation launcher, its launch base and the Vega C evolution of the current small launcher.
The contracts, signed at ESA’s Paris Head Office with Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), France’s CNES space agency and ELV, respectively, cover all development work on Ariane 6 and its launch base for a maiden flight in 2020, and on Vega C for its 2018 debut.
PARIS (Arianespace PR) — Building on its record year of mission operations in 2014 – and supported by European decisions to develop the heavy-lift successor Ariane 6, as well as an enhanced lightweight Vega C vehicle – Arianespace is looking to the future with confidence as a leader in the launch services marketplace.
Speaking to reporters during the company’s traditional New Year’s press conference in Paris this morning, Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël underscored Arianespace’s ability to deliver for its customers in 2014 – which is to continue with an intense 12-month schedule of launches in 2015.
SpaceX Founder Elon Musk has long talked about disrupting the launch industry with low prices and technological innovations. In 2014, the impacts of those efforts were felt far and wide as competitors responded to the threat the California company posed to their livelihoods.
ULA Pivots. With SpaceX reeling off one successful launch after another, ULA pivoted on several fronts. One was to announce efforts to significantly reduce costs on its highly reliable but pricey Atlas V and Delta IV boosters. But, even that proved to be insufficient as SpaceX threatened ULA on several fronts.