August 28, 2017

Go-ahead for Prometheus, Europe’s future launcher engine

Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s Director of Space Transportation, and Alain Charmeau, CEO of ArianeGroup (formerly Airbus Safran Launchers), officially handed the Prometheus project over to ESA on 22 June at the Paris Air Show.

The Prometheus project’s goal is to reduce costs by a factor of 10 compared with the current Vulcain engine for Ariane 5 and 6, aiming at a unit cost of €1 million and a production rate of 50 engines per year.

All design and production choices are being made in the early stages of the project, including additive manufacturing, big data, fly-by-wire and predictive maintenance.

Thrust modulation, mass and reliability are also being addressed at this stage, which shows the project is on track, even though much work still remains.

Initially driven by ArianeGroup, Prometheus has now been officially handed over to ESA, which will be funding and executing the project. Alain Charmeau and Daniel Neuenschwander signed an agreement to this end on 22 June at the Paris Air Show. CNES is supporting ESA on project oversight, notably as Technical Officer on the joint ESA/CNES team.

The next milestones for Prometheus are:

  • Chamber Key Point: mid-September
  • Prometheus gate design Key Point 2: end November

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