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5/16/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

MT Aerospace, ArianeGroup win bid for Ariane6 upper stage

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The work will support PHOEBUS and future ICARUS composite prototypes.

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The European Space Agency (ESA; Paris, France) signed contracts on May 14 with MT Aerospace AG (Augsburg, Germany) and ArianeGroup (Bremen, Germany) for advancement of aerospace technologies related to the Ariane 6 launch vehicle.

MT Aerospace and ArianeGroup are combining their resources to design and test the “Prototype of a Highly OptimizEd Black Upper Stage,” or PHOEBUS. According to MT Aerospace, composite technologies will be explored and used in the project.

The PHOEBUS project reportedly will increase the readiness level of an improved upper stage for the Ariane 6 launcher, with respect to cost/weight savings and stage performance improvements, including a payload capacity increase by around 2 metric tons for geostationary orbit. In 2021, these technologies will be integrated into an upper stage demonstrator to prove system compatibility with fuels, including liquid oxygen and hydrogen on a large scale, and to demonstrate filling and draining processes and integrity of the primary and secondary structures.

To demonstrate the maturity of all enabling technologies, both companies are working closely together: ArianeGroup will focus on innovative stage architectures and system integration, while MT Aerospace concentrates on materials and technologies for composite tanks and structures under cryogenic conditions.

This project and collaboration will reportedly pave the way for a subsequent product development of the new upper stage for Ariane 6 evolution, which will be named Innovative Carbon Ariane Upper Stage, or Icarus. 

Decisions regarding further funding of this carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) upper stage will be made at Space19+, the ESA Ministerial Council at the end of this year.

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