Ariane 6 upper stage engines are tested

Ariane 6 upper stage engines are tested

On 1 September 2023, the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) new Ariane 6 launcher fired up its two upper stage engines to simulate how they will have to work together at the German aerospace agency DLR’s engine test center in Lampoldshausen. (Germany). Testing – of the new Vinci engine and a smaller Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) – took place on a purpose-built dyno.

Vinci, Ariane 6’s liquid hydrogen and oxygen-powered upper stage engine, can be stopped and restarted multiple times to place satellites in different orbits, and then deorbit the upper stage, so that it is not left behind. as hazardous waste in space.

The APU makes it possible for Vinci to restart in space while maintaining proper pressure in the fuel tanks and preventing the formation of bubbles in the fuel lines. The power unit uses small amounts of liquid hydrogen and oxygen from the main tanks, replacing a system that relied on large amounts of helium in tanks.

Ariane 6 is a completely new design, intended to replace Ariane 5 as Europe’s heavy-lift launch system. “This autonomous capability to reach Earth orbit and deep space is the foundation of the European vision for space navigation, Earth observation, and scientific and security services. This vision is a reality thanks to the constant dedication of thousands of talented people working in the 22 ESA Member States and calling themselves #SpaceTeamEurope.

ESA owns and manages the Ariane 6 program and defines its performance targets; ArianeGroup is the prime contractor, and the launch operator is Arianespace. The French space agency CNES manages the European Spaceport in French Guiana, home to the Ariane launchers since their first liftoff in 1979.

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