ArianeGroup, CNES Sign Agreement on Prometheus Testing

Prometheus rocket engine (Credit: ArianeGroup Holding)

PARIS, January 14, 2021 (ArianeGroup PR) — Following the visit to the ArianeGroup site in Vernon by President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, and Minister for Overseas France Sébastien Lecornu, ArianeGroup CEO André-Hubert Roussel and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall signed an agreement preparatory to the testing of the new Prometheus rocket engine at the Vernon site in Normandy.

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ESA, CNES Sign Contract to Maintain and Modernize Spaceport

Vega and Ariane 5 launch pads at Europe’s Spaceport. (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA will contribute to the maintenance, operations and modernisation of Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana over the period 2020–24.

At the ESA Council meeting on 16 December, a contract for the ‘Maintenance of the Guiana Space Centre launch range in operational condition for the period 2020–24, including core launch range renewal activities’ was signed by Jan Wörner, ESA Director General and Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, France’s space agency.

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Vega Launcher: Full Support for the Return to Flight Activities From Italian and French Institutions

Vega takes off on its 17th flight on Nov. 16, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

ROME (Avio PR) — After the yesterday meeting in Rome, the Undersecretary of State with responsibility for Space Riccardo Fraccaro and the French Minister of Finance with responsibility for Space Bruno Le Maire, issued a joint statement highlighting the full institutional support to the Ariane and Vega programmes, with particular regard to the return-to-flight of the Italian launcher designed and produced by Avio S.p.A. with the ESA (European Space Agency) mandate.

The support was also reiterated by the Italian Interministerial Committee for Space and Aerospace Policies.

The full statement is below

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Thales Alenia Space to Build Copernicus CHIME Satellites

Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

CANNES, France (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), announced today that it has signed a 90 million euro [$106.5 million] first tranche contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to design and build the 2 environmental monitoring satellites of the Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment (CHIME), the global amount being 455 million euros [$538.5 million].

The CHIME mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of the European Space Agency, ESA, in partnership with the European Commission. The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data and a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

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Ariane 6 Launch Delayed to Second Quarter of 2022

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

Vega-C and Ariane 6 are being developed by ESA to assure Europe’s independent access to space. The maiden flight for Vega-C is planned to take place in June 2021, that for Ariane 6 for the second quarter of 2022.

PARIS (ESA PR) — Solid progress is being made on both Vega-C and Ariane 6 development programmes. Since March, some technical events and the COVID-19 pandemic have both impacted the progress of activities. Uncertainty from COVID-19 still persists globally to date.

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CNES Eyes Biomass to Fuel Future Ariane Launchers

Biomethane installation (Credit: Naskeo Environnement)

The idea of ​​using biomethane to propel future generations of Ariane is gaining ground. This innovative technological solution would have great economic and environmental interest and many positive repercussions in Guyana.

PARIS (CNES PR) — The future Ariane Next launcher , which could take over from Ariane 6 by 2030 or 2035, will have to be more economical to meet market needs. One of the avenues to achieve this could be to use liquid methane rather than hydrogen to power the engines.

“The matter is not yet 100% decided, but we are looking with interest at the combination of oxygen and methane. This is why we are looking for the best methane production channel from an economic as well as an environmental standpoint,” said Pascal Noir, project manager at the Launchers Department.

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Ariane 6 Engines Complete Qualification Tests

Hot firing of P120C solid rocket motor for Vega-C. (Credit: ESA/CNES)
  • The three engines for Europe’s new Ariane 6 launcher have now completed their qualification tests, following the successful qualification testing of the P120C solid propulsion engine on October 7 at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana
  • The qualification test campaigns for the Vinci and Vulcain 2.1 liquid propulsion engines were held in 2018 and 2019, respectively
  • The Vulcain 2.1 and Vinci engines, which will be powering the first Ariane 6, are ready to be mounted on the core stage in Les Mureaux and on the upper stage in Bremen

PARIS (ArianeGroup PR) — The future European launcher’s three types of engines use two different propulsion technologies:

  • liquid hydrogen-oxygen propulsion for the Vulcain 2.1 core stage engine and the re-ignitable Vinci engine on the upper stage;
  • solid propulsion for the P120C engine fitted to the boosters which help propel Ariane 6 beyond the gravitational pull of earth’s atmosphere.
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Video: Hot Fire of P120C Motor for Ariane 6

Video Caption: The second qualification model of the P120C solid rocket motor, configured for Ariane 6, completed its hot firing on 7 October 2020 in a final test to prove its readiness for flight.

Depending on the configuration, two or four P120C motors, developed in Europe, will be strapped onto the sides of the future Ariane 6 launch vehicle as boosters for liftoff. The P120C will also be used as the first stage of Vega-C.

After it was fully loaded with 142 tonnes of fuel, the 13.5 m long and 3.4 m diameter motor was ignited to simulate liftoff and the first phase of flight.

The motor burned for 130 seconds and delivered a maximum thrust of about 4500kN. The test was performed at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, and was completed with no anomalies.

Copyright: ESA/CNES

CNES Conducts R&D Challenge for Future Launch Systems

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Wednesday, 24 June, research laboratories, start-ups, PMEs and other firms presented their work contributing to the launch systems of the future to a top-level audience. In all, €750,000 worth of CNES contracts were awarded to the laureates, which each received €50,000 or €100,000 to develop their solutions.

At its Innovation Day on 7 February in Toulouse, CNES announced a Launchers R&D Challenge under its Connect by CNES initiative, in partnership with ArianeGroup and ESA, designed to ease access to funding for launch systems.

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ESA, European Commission Pre-order Four More Ariane 6 Launches

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) has finalized its preorder for four more launches on Ariane 6, along with an initial payment.

Using Ariane 62, the light version of the new European launcher, these missions will be carried out on behalf of the European Commission to continue the deployment and operational ramp-up of the high-performance Galileo satellite navigation system.

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Qarman CubeSat: Falling Into a Fireball

ESA’s next CubeSat mission seen enduring the scorching heat of simulated atmospheric reentry inside the world’s largest plasma wind tunnel. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s latest mission will enter the vacuum of space, not aboard a rocket but by being released from the International Space Station. The first task of the shoebox-sized Qarman CubeSat is simply to fall. While typical space missions resist orbital decay, Qarman will drift down month by month until it reenters the atmosphere, at which point it will gather a wealth of data on the fiery physics of reentry.

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European Commission, EIB Group Invest EUR 200 Million in Space Sector

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)
  • EUR 100 million contingent loan for the new Ariane 6 launcher programme, a European Space Agency programme with ArianeGroup as Industrial lead contractor and design authority
  • First EUR 100 million venture capital programme under InnovFin to support innovation and growth of European smaller and medium-sized space technology companies

LUXEMBOURG (EIB PR) — The European Commission is partnering with the European Investment Bank Group, announcing EUR 200 million of investments into the EU space sector, supporting ground-breaking innovation in the industry. During the European Space Policy Conference  in Brussels, EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle is signing an agreement with André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, confirming a EUR 100 million loan for the new Ariane 6 launcher programme.

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Arianespace Looks Back on Solid 2019

Ariane 5 booster lifts off. (Credit: Arianespace)

COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace recorded a solid operational and business performance in 2019 by orbiting 24 satellites with nine launches, while signing 14 launch services contracts during the year for a total of 44 satellites ranging in mass from six kilograms to nearly six metric tons – marking the flexibility of the company’s commercial offer.

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Arianespace Looks Break Launch Records, Debut New Boosters in 2020

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace is heading into 2020 fully prepared to capitalize on the latest commercial opportunities for Ariane 5 and to succeed with Vega’s return-to-flight, planned for March. Arianespace also is aiming to set three new records:

  • For the number of launches during the year, with up to 12 opportunities identified from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, along with the first flights of Vega C and Ariane 6; and eight more from the cosmodromes at Baikonur and Vostochny. (from these two cosmodromes, this launch cadence could be augmented based on satellite availability),
  • For the number of satellites placed into orbit – more than 300 – taking into account the continued deployment of OneWeb satellites and the SSMS rideshare mission with Vega, and
  • For the number of launch pads at its service: four at the Guiana Space Center (for Ariane 5, Ariane 6, Soyuz and Vega/Vega C), along with one each at the Baikonur and Vostochny cosmodromes for Soyuz.
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