ESA Contracts Astrium to Begin Next-Gen Launch Vehicle Development

[Satellite TODAY 07-08-10] Astrium has been contracted by the European Space Agency (ESA) to undertake initial development studies for a next-generation launcher (NGL) for future satellite launches under the ESA’s Future Launcher Preparatory Program (FLPP), Astrium announced July 7.
    This 15-month project has a total value of 8.5 million euros ($10.6 million), of which Astrium will contribute 1.5 million euros ($1.8 million) of its own funds.
    The project will be divided into three parts: definition of a launcher concept, required technological innovations and the costs of building and operating the new launch vehicle. The NGL will be phased in with Arianespace’s Ariane 5ME (Midlife Evolution), an evolved version of the Ariane 5 rocket, for which a preparatory program was set in motion during the 2008 ESA ministerial conference. ESA will prepare an FLPP proposal combining all the technical and organizational aspects of the program for presentation at the next ESA ministerial conference.
    “The development of a new launcher involves creating the technologies of tomorrow, whilst minimizing development costs and ultimately operating costs. It’s the adventure of a lifetime,” Astrium Space Transportation CEO Alain Charmeau said in a statement.
    The FLPP development contract is Astrium’s second ESA launch technology award in the past 30 days. On June 24, Astrium signed a two-year deal worth 20 million euros ($24.4 million) to enable the engines of liquid hydrogen- and liquid oxygen-powered cryogenic upper stages to be reignited under an ESA project dubbed CUST (Cryogenic Upper Stage Technologies).

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