All engines for Ariane 6 complete qualification tests
(15 Oct 2020) With the successful final qualification of the P120C at the European Spaceport (CSG) in Kourou on 7 October, the qualification models of three engines for Ariane 6 have now all been tested successfully.
Ariane 6's core stage cryogenic engine, the Vulcain 2.1, is fuelled by liquid oxygen-hydrogen. It delivers 1,371 kN of thrust in vacuum to propel Ariane 6 in the first eight minutes of flight, up to an altitude of 200 km. It has the same mass as an Airbus A318 jet engine but provides more than 10 times the power.
The Vulcain 2.1 features a 3D-printed gas generator, a redesigned, simplified nozzle and a combustion chamber that can be ignited from the ground via the bottom of the nozzle instead of by pyrotechnic devices inside the motor, reducing the cost and mass.
Expensive liquid helium is no longer needed as it was for Vulcain 2.0 because heated oxygen in the exhaust lines now pressurises the oxygen tank.
The solid-propellant P120C rocket will equip Ariane 62 (Ariane 6 in its configuration with two strap-on boosters) and Ariane 64 (four strap-on boosters) as well as the first stage of the Vega-C launcher. This third and last successful test of the solid propellant P120C rocket, in the Ariane 6 configuration, paves the way for final qualification of the P120C by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Additionally, this last engine test was also the first "system" test of the booster for the new European launcher, which features a nozzle controlled by electric jacks powered by thermal cells (a world first in ignition by laser and optical fibre). The same test also validated the interactions between "ground" infrastructures and "on-board" equipment thanks to a new technology communication bus.
Vinci is Europe's first expander cycle engine and will power Ariane 6's upper stage. It is fuelled by liquid oxygen-hydrogen and can be reignited up to five times. This increases the operational flexibility of Ariane 6 and ensures that the engine safely deorbits at the end of the mission.
Ariane 6 is a programme managed and funded by the European Space Agency for which ArianeGroup is design authority and industrial prime contractor. ArianeGroup is responsible for development, production with its industrial partners and operations via its subsidiary Arianespace. The French space agency CNES is responsible for construction of the launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana.
Reference: ArianeGroup PR, ESA PR