Ariane Next

Summary

Ariane Next
FunctionPartially reusable launch vehicle to low Earth orbit
ManufacturerArianeGroup
Country of originAustria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Size
Stages2
Capacity
Payload to
Associated rockets
ComparableFalcon 9
Launch history
Statusunder development
Launch sitesGuiana Space Centre, French Guiana
First stage
Engines7-9 Prometheus engines[1]
PropellantLOX / methane
Second stage
Engines1 Prometheus engine[1]
PropellantLOX / methane

Ariane Next is the code name for a future European Space Agency rocket developed by ArianeGroup. This partially reusable launcher should succeed Ariane 6 from the 2030s. The objective of the new launcher is to halve the launch costs. The preferred architecture is that of the Falcon 9 rocket (a reusable first stage landing vertically with a common engine model for the two stages) while using an engine burning a mixture of methane and liquid oxygen. The first technological demonstrators are under development.

Context

The European Space Agency's Ariane 6 launcher is to gradually succeed the Ariane 5 rocket after 2022.[2] Studies on the next generation of launcher (after Ariane 6) have started.[when?] The priority objective of this new rocket is to halve the cost of launching compared to Ariane 6 with simplified and more flexible[clarification needed] launch methods.[citation needed]

Architecture

The architecture proposed for Ariane Next uses the formula developed by SpaceX with its Falcon 9 launcher: a reusable first stage which, after having separated from the second stage, returns to land vertically on Earth. This stage uses several liquid propellant rocket motors: the prototype of these is the Prometheus demonstrator under development which burns a mixture of methane and liquid oxygen. Methane is less efficient than the hydrogen used by the Vulcain engine of Ariane 6 but it can be stored at higher temperatures (-160°C against -253 °C for hydrogen), which makes it possible to lighten and simplify the tanks and the supply circuits, and its density is close to that of oxygen, which allows a further reduction in tanks sizes. The launcher would use seven or nine of such motors for the first stage and a single motor for the second stage.[1] The goal is to halve the launch costs compared to Ariane 6.

Preliminary steps

To be able to produce the new launcher, various technology demonstrators are developed:

  • FROG is a small demonstrator for testing the vertical landing of a rocket stage. It made several flights in 2019.[3]
  • Callisto, under development, aims to improve the techniques required to produce a reusable launcher (return to Earth and reconditioning) and to estimate the operational cost of such a launcher. A first flight is scheduled for 2022.
  • Themis will then be developed. It will have a reusable first stage with one to three Promotheus rocket motors and is expected to fly around 2022–2025.

Configurations

Different configurations of the launcher are being evaluated. Three versions are under considreation to adapt to different missions:[4]

  • a two-stage version;
  • a version with two small liquid propellant boosters;
  • a version with three first stages linked together, similar to Falcon Heavy.

Return to Earth

Different systems are studied to control the re-entry into the atmosphere of the reusable first stage:

Landing system

Different systems are considered, ranging from everything on ground (all ground systems) to everything on the launcher (all on-board systems). Currently, development is focused on an on-board legs system similar to that of Falcon 9.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Jean-Marc ASTORG (7 May 2019). "CNES future launcher road map" (PDF). CNES.
  2. ^ Berger, Eric (21 June 2021). "The Ariane 6 debut is slipping again as Europe hopes for a late 2022 launch". Ars Technica. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  3. ^ "FROG : un petit démonstrateur GNC de lanceur réutilisable" (in French). 18 October 2019.
  4. ^ Patureau de Mirand, Antoine (July 2019). Ariane Next, a vision for a reusable cost efficient European rocket (PDF). 8th European Conference for Aeronautics and Space Sciences. doi:10.13009/EUCASS2019-949. Retrieved 18 August 2021.

External links

  • Ariane Next on CNES website