ArianeGroup, MT Aerospace to continue work on PHOEBUS

(17 May 2021) The European Space Agency (ESA) and ArianeGroup, lead contractor and design authority for Ariane 6, have signed a new technological development contract in the field of carbon composites. The PHOEBUS (Prototype of a Highly Optimized Black UpperStage) programme will increase the maturity of the technologies needed to lower both the manufacturing cost and the mass of the Ariane 6 upper stage.

The goal is thus to improve its performance (in particular, an increased payload capacity of about two metric tons to geostationary transfer orbit), and to validate a new stage architecture.

MT Aerospace, an affiliate of OHB SE, and ArianeGroup are combining the expertise of their teams in Augsburg and Bremen in order to design and test the PHOEBUS upper stage cryogenic composite technology prototype. This collaboration, which began in 2019 with an initial phase A/B1 design contract, continues under the ESA contract signed today.

To demonstrate the maturity of all the necessary technologies, ArianeGroup will contribute its know-how in launcher stage technology and systems integration, while MT Aerospace will be responsible for the materials and technologies intended for composite tanks and structures in cryogenic conditions.

The technologies developed under this contract will be integrated into an upper stage demonstrator beginning in 2023, in order to demonstrate that the system is compatible on a large scale (scale 1 for the LOX tank and scale 2/3 for the LH2 tank) with the liquid oxygen-hydrogen mixture.

PHOEBUS paves the way not only for the further development of a new stage for Ariane 6 or other future launchers, but also for the introduction of cryogenic composite technologies for the aeronautics sector, by creating synergies between the two industries.

Reference: ArianeGroup PR

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