FINAL TEST PHASE OF ECA GROUP'S EQUIPMENT FOR THE EUROPEAN LAUNCH VEHICLE ARIANE 6
ECA GROUP's participation in one of Europe's biggest industrial projects.
It is one of Europe’s major industrial projects – building Ariane 6, the new space launch vehicle. On behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), ArianeGroup has been developing the rocket programme, and ECA GROUP is proud to act as collaborative partner in this space adventure.
The new rocket will replace Ariane 5 after 2022. The advantage of Ariane 6 is its energy efficiency: Due to its integrated innovations and due to the fact that it can be configured with two or four boosters, the new launch vehicle needs less fuel for its launching.
ECA GROUP is providing two types of equipment for this project, which are currently undergoing final test runs at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana.
One involves the final assembly of the booster*, also called Equipped Solid Rocket (ESR). The second one is about the handling of the upper composite part of the rocket.
Assembly of the booster
The assembly of the booster’s three components (upper part, central part and rear skirt) is a real technical challenge. Several tons heavy components with a diameter of more than 3 meters and a global length of up to 20 meters need to be positioned with an exactitude of a few millimeters from each other to be joint. Currently going through the final fine tunings, the assembly tests for the booster will take place in the course of 2021.
ECA GROUP’s tool will assemble the booster's three parts in a horizontal position with an exactitude of a few milimeters.
Placing the upper fairing on the main rocket
ECA GROUP’s second contribution to the Ariane 6 programme involves the handling of the upper part of the main rocket, which will transport satellites or other space loads into orbit.
ECA GROUP’s tool, called the Upper Composite Handling System (UCHS), will enable the assembly of the upper rocket part on the rocket central core at the launch area.
The rocket’s upper part needs to be handled with utmost care. After all, it will carry the most important elements of the mission, the satellites.
ECA GROUP has tested the UCHS tool beyond the regulatory requirements to prove its performance. The next step will be an exciting one: Lifting the upper rocket part 60 meters up on the central rocket core.
* A booster is an additional engine that operates in parallel with the main engine for the first two minutes of flight to provide the additional thrust needed for the rocket to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth.
ECA GROUP’s tool, the Upper Composite Handling System (UCHS), will place the upper fairing 60 meters up on the central rocket core. ECA GROUP’s team performed the weight tests with bags filled with water.