Astrium and ESA to develop the launch vehicle of the future
Astrium has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to undertake initial development studies for a Next Generation Launcher (NGL) for future satellite launches.
This 15 month project has a total contractual value of €8.5 million, of which Astrium will contribute €1.5m of its own funds. “This contract will enable Astrium to investigate the most promising options for the next generation of European launcher in collaboration with nine European countries with past experience of working on the Ariane programme.” said Astrium Space Transportation CEO Alain Charmeau as he signed the contract.
The NGL project is part of ESA’s Future Launcher Preparatory Programme (FLPP), which aims to prepare a proposal combining all the technical and organisational aspects of the programme for presentation at the next ESA ministerial conference.
Europe requires a new launcher to assure continuity and preserve its independent access to space. The study will look towards 2025 for institutional missions covering a performance range from three tonnes into geostationary orbit (including a four tonne segment into sun-synchronous orbit (SSO)) through to eight tonnes.
The NGL will be phased in with the Ariane 5ME (Midlife Evolution), an evolved version of Ariane 5 for which a preparatory programme was set in motion during the 2008 ESA ministerial conference. The Ariane 5ME represents a much-needed response to the institutional and commercial markets’ requirements for a medium-term launch capacity for heavy satellites in geostationary orbit (with a launch mass of more than 11 tonnes).
ESA and Astrium will concentrate on the aspects of the project that will help to improve competitiveness between now and 2025, with special emphasis on reliability, availability and lower costs, in particular operating costs. The study will focus on modular concepts capable of covering the intermediate propulsion power range.