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Ariane 6 Gets Closer to Flight with Vulcain Engine Test Firing

By Kendall Russell | January 23, 2018
      Ariane 6 undergoes its first test firing at DLR's Lampoldshausen site. Photo: DLR.

      Ariane 6 undergoes its first test firing at DLR’s Lampoldshausen site. Photo: DLR.

      The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has successfully tested the Vulcain 2.1 engine at its P5 test facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany. The Vulcain 2.1 will power the main stage of the Ariane 6 launcher, which will fly for the first time in 2020.

      This is a version of the Ariane 5 Vulcain 2 engine specially adapted for the Ariane 6 main stage to simplify production and to lower costs. To reach these objectives the engine integrates technologies such as a gas generator built using 3D printing, a simplified divergent nozzle, and an oxygen heater for tank pressurization. These adaptations contribute to achieving the cost targets set for the Ariane 6 launcher, while retaining the efficiency and reliability demonstrated on Ariane 5, according to ArianeGroup.

      The tests carried out at Lampoldshausen will allow the new engine to be tested throughout its flight envelope (thrust, mixing ratio, propellant supply conditions). In parallel, the Ariane 6 upper stage Vinci engine qualification program is continuing on schedule, with more than 130 test firings performed on the two test beds in France and Germany (the P4.1 at the DLR’s Lampoldshausen site and the PF52 at the ArianeGroup test site in Vernon, France), including several demonstrations of the multiple ignition capability required by Ariane customers for their missions on Ariane 6.