ArianeGroup, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, reports that its Vulcain® 2.1 engine has completed its first successful test firing at the German Aerospace Center in Lampoldshausen, Germany. The engine incorporates a metal additively manufactured gas generator and is designed to power the main stage of the Ariane 6 launcher.
The Vulcain 2.1 engine has been adapted from the Ariane 5 Vulcain 2 to simplify production and lower costs. To achieve this aim, the decision was made to incorporate metal Additive Manufacturing into the redesigned engine. The first AM gas generator was delivered to Airbus Safran Launchers by GKN Aerospace in June 2017, at which time the company reported that it had achieved a 90% reduction in the number of component parts in the generator, from approximately 1000 parts to 100 parts.
This first successful firing is one of a number of tests which will be carried out at Lampoldshausen to test the new engine throughout its flight envelope. These tests will observe the engine’s thrust, mixing ratio and propellant supply conditions to ensure the safe launching of payloads into space.
Qualification is also ongoing for the Ariane 6’s upper stage Vinci® engine, with more than 130 test firings performed to-date at Lampoldshausen and in Vernon, France. Both Additive Manufacturing and Powder Metallurgy are used to manufacture components in the Vinci engine, which the engine’s designers report improve cost and time efficiency.
The Ariane 6 is scheduled to enter service in 2020. ArianeGroup acts as design authority and industrial lead contractor for the development and operation of the Ariane 6 launcher on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), and reportedly coordinates an industrial network of more than 600 companies in thirteen European countries.