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PTS Wins Major Contract Within the Further Development of Ariane 6

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 27, 2021
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ArianeGroup ASTRIS Kick Stage. (Credit: ArianeGroup)

BERLIN, Germany (PTS PR) — Berlin-based aerospace company PTS has been awarded a large and prestigious development contract by ArianeGroup to supply one of the core elements of the further development of the Ariane space program: PTS is developing the electronics and operating system for the ASTRIS Kick Stage.

This additional upper stage complements the new European Ariane 6 launcher. The ASTRIS Kick Stage will further increase the versatility of Ariane 6 by providing higher payload capacities and enhanced performance for certain missions. Enabling new mission profiles, including the launch of satellite swarms, missions to the Moon or deep space, as it will make for reduction in spacecraft complexity and the risks inherent in orbit injection. This again strengthens Ariane 6’s chances on the market.

Latest stackable small-form factor On-board computer developed by PTS for the ALINA lunar lander. (Credit: PTS)

André Radloff, Chief Executive Officer of PTS: “This challenging contract gives us the opportunity to demonstrate the reliability and innovative power of PTS as an experienced partner in spaceflight to advance our vision of exploring neighboring celestial bodies and planets in the long term”.

Robert Boehme, the founder of PTS adds “For us it is a great honor and opportunity that the space agency ESA and ArianeGroup as a long-term partner both entrust us with this important core element of the ASTRIS Kick Stage”.

The ASTRIS Kick Stage on-top of the Ariane 6 rocket. (Credit: ArianeGroup)

As ESA’s prime contractor, ArianeGroup is developing the Ariane 6 rocket and the ASTRIS Kick Stage. The development of both the Ariane 6 upper stage and the Kick Stage are being led by ArianeGroup Bremen. In July this year, ArianeGroup was awarded a €90 million contract by ESA for the ASTRIS Kick Stage program with the aim of further increasing the versatility of Ariane 6 and its performance in new types of missions. PTS is the largest subcontractor within the ASTRIS Kick Stage program and oversees the operating system and all electronics.

The ASTRIS Kick Stage in-orbit with a spacecraft such as the ESA HERA mission attached. (Credit: ArianeGroup)

The development contract also includes the budget for the realization of the first mission of the Kick Stage: With the so-called HERA mission, ESA will send a probe on its way to an asteroid with the help of the ASTRIS Kick Stage. Together with NASA, the aim is to explore methods of deflecting dangerous asteroids away from Earth in the future.

About Planetary Transportation Systems

As a close partner of the Zeitfracht Group, PTS offers cost-effective and reliable space technology. The company aims to develop in-space infrastructure and conduct its own space exploration missions. With its engineering team, PTS offers contract and development services in the space sector. Its customers include commercial clients as well as space agencies.

About ArianeGroup

ArianeGroup, as prime contractor for the European launcher families Ariane 5 and Ariane 6, is responsible for the entire production chain of the launchers – from design through the entire production chain to marketing via its subsidiary Arianespace. With approximately 7.500 highly skilled employees in France and Germany, ArianeGroup is a joint venture owned equally by Airbus and Safran. The Group is also the prime contractor for the French Navy’s ballistic launchers. ArianeGroup and its subsidiaries are globally recognized specialists in space equipment and propulsion systems, and their know-how is also applied in other industries. Group sales amounted to around €2.7 billion in 2020.

About the Zeitfracht Group

The Zeitfracht Group is a third-generation family business with more than 3,700 employees and headquarters in Berlin and Leipzig. The company is primarily active in logistics.

5 responses to “PTS Wins Major Contract Within the Further Development of Ariane 6”

  1. Robert G. Oler says:

    the next few years I think are simply going to be fascinating in terms of booster development

    there are some wild cards. Starship “might” work as advertised and simply revolutionize vehicle design. but more likely like Musk times schedules the overall goals of the booster system are going to be downscoped as it settles into something that is actually doable and functional (more later)

    there might also be a breakthrough in terms of air breathing propulsion which if it happens will change first stage equations

    most of the industry seems to be headed toward either updated versions of the status quo (SLS, sadly Vulcan) but more and more what you seem to see are experiments following SpaceX success with the Falcon 9 recovery toward some sort of reusable first stage followed by innovative second and kick stage designs.

    No one has a clue what BO is doing. but you see rocketlabs and now Ariane space coming up with some sort of first stage reusability. you wonderful if A 6 is now an evolving stage with their reusable experiments…

    Rocketlab seems to have driven full into the first stage reusable followed by an innovative but expendable upper stage

    Vulcan is old school, but a guess is that it’s a standin until BO comes up with?

    Meanwhile no clue as to what the Chinese are doing except, they seem to be headed toward some massive booster systems.

    Meanwhile there is Musk who is valiantly battling the rocket equation. searching endlessly for more ISP and less mass particularly in dry weight. (to do a bit of mixing). I will be fascinated to see what happens this year. my guess right now is that Musk gets to something useable on his system but its not fully reusable.

    I suspect he will get a massive first stage that flys back. and maybe is more reusable then the F9 stage which Musk clearly thinks has reached its limit in terms of cost reduction…but if I had to bet right now. the second stage is the weak point…and before long we are going to see an expendable second stage. at least initially to start flying Starlink 2 to orbit.

    I bet this combination they are stacking or working on now. Can only get to orbit with less payload then a falconH if that much

    anyway maybe predictions latter and wow it will be fun to watch fly safe

  2. duheagle says:

    Seems a tad late in the game to be awarding this contract just now. By the time the ASTRIS stage is ready to go, the rocket it will notionally ride on may already have ridden off into the sunset. I don’t see Ariane 6 having either a long service life or a very impressive overall launch total by the time it is forcibly retired due to terminal obsolescence. I think A6 will be born and then die within the current decade.

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