Vulcain 2 engine now in full production

04/05/05

A small ceremony took place yesterday at the site of Snecma Moteurs in Vernon, France, to mark the beginning of industrial production of the Vulcain 2 engine, designed for the new Ariane 5 ECA and Ariane 5 ES ATV launchers.

Present at the ceremony was Patrick Devedjian, the French Minister for Industry and Jean-Paul Béchat, Chairman of the Executive Board of Sagem-Snecma. ESA was represented by Antonio Fabrizi, Director of Launchers and Robert Lainé, Head of the Ariane Department. "As the 12 February Ariane 5 ECA qualification flight was a complete success; we can now go into full production of the Vulcain 2 engine," said Jean-Paul Béchat.

The Vulcain 2 is used for the main stage of the Ariane 5 ECA that can place payloads of up to 10 tonnes into geostationary orbit, and by the Ariane 5 ES ATV, designed to deliver ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to the International Space Station (ISS). Ariane 5 ES ATV's maiden flight is planned for 2006. It will place the ATV into a 300 km circular low Earth orbit, inclined to 51.6 degrees, from where the ATV will use its own propulsion system to reach and dock with the ISS.

Vulcain 2 is a modification of the Vulcain cryogenic engine used by the Ariane 5 Generic launcher and has an increased thrust of 20%. The engine operates under slightly higher pressure than that used for the Ariane 5 G and with a mixture ratio of 20% more liquid oxygen. Its new oxygen turbopump operates at 13 000 rpm to deliver a pressure of 161 bar.

This redesigned engine also has a new nozzle and nozzle extension to allow exhaust from the turbopumps to be re-injected into the main system, thus improving engine performance at high altitudes. All these modifications mean that the Vulcain 2 engine can provide an additional lift capability of 1.3 tonnes into geostationary orbit.

During yesterday's ceremony, those present met with the Vulcain 2 designers and technicians, and visited the test centre to see a Vulcain 2 engine, the first produced under a contract for 30 engines.

Antonio Fabrizi said after the ceremony: "This first contract for Vulcain 2 engines has been placed under the European Guaranteed Access to Space Ariane 5 Programme. It ensures that Ariane 5 launchers will be available for European missions."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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