Themis programme


The Themis programme is a European Space Agency programme, that is taking the first steps towards a European government-funded in-flight demonstration of a prototype reusable rocket first stage. The prototype rocket will also be called Themis, with flights slated to begin as early as 2023.


Themis is expected to provide valuable information on the economic value of reusability for the European government space program and develop technologies for potential use on future European launch vehicles.[1][non-primary source needed]

Themis will be powered by the ESA's Prometheus rocket engine.[1]

Two possible landing sites have been mentioned in discussions surrounding the project:[2]

  • The former Diamant launch complex, which will be used for the flight testing phase;[3]
  • The Ariane 5 launch complex, which will become available after the transition from the Ariane 5 to the next-generation Ariane 6.

The estimated program timeline, as of December 2020, is as follows:[4]

  • 2020: Basic stage testing, composed of tank filling and ground support equipment tests.[5]
  • 2021: Prometheus engine testing
  • 2022: Low-altitude hop tests (short flights up from and down to the launch site)
  • 2023: Initial flight test
  • 2023–2024: Loop tests (repeated flights of the reusable demonstration vehicle)
  • 2025: Full flight envelope test

Suborbital flight tests are slated to begin as early as 2023 at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.[2]

Eventually, lessons learned with Themis' development will pave the way for developing the European reusable launcher Ariane Next, which should first fly in the 2030s.[6]


  • On 15 December 2020, ESA signed a contract worth €33 million with prime contractor ArianeGroup in France for the ‘Themis Initial Phase’. This first phase of the Themis involves development of the flight vehicle technologies, and test bench and static fire demonstrations at Vernon in France. It also includes the preparation of the ground segment[clarification needed] at the Esrange Space Center in Kiruna, Sweden, for the first hop tests and any associated flight vehicle modifications.[2][non-primary source needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Prometheus to power future launchers". ESA. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "ESA plans demonstration of a reusable rocket stage". ESA. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  3. ^ "Diamant in the rough – in Kourou, the old launch complex gets a facelift for Themis". ArianeGroup. 24 September 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  4. ^ Payer, Markus (30 November 2020). "ArianeWorks on European reusable rocket prototype Themis". SpaceWatch.Global. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  5. ^ "CNES, ArianeGroup Move Forward on Themis Reusable Rocket Project". Parabolic Arc. 26 February 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  6. ^ 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

  • ESA Themis website