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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

Rocket Man - Alan Bond

Alan Bond is a legendary English mechanical and aerospace engineer of Reaction Engines Ltd, Project Daedalus, Blue Streak, HOTOL, Skylon, A2 hypersonic passenger aircraft.

He worked on liquid rocket engines, principally the RZ.2 (liquid oxygen / kerosene) and the RZ.20 (liquid oxygen / liquid hydrogen) at Rolls Royce under the tutelage of Val Cleaver (discussed the possibilities and problems of nuclear rocket engines in 1948),

ESA Council decides on the completion of Ariane 6 and endorses start of transition from Ariane 5 to Ariane 6

  • In view of the progress made in the Ariane 6 programme, Participating States have decided on the completion of the development up to full operational capability and agreed to fund industrial incentives associated with the development of Ariane 6 and P120C solid rocket motor.

  • Participating States also committed to start with the first step of the Ariane 6 and P120C Transition Programme. This programme supports the evolution from Europe’s Ariane 5 to full operational capability of Ariane 6.

  • Ariane 6 is Europe’s new-generation launcher, designed to secure guaranteed access to space for Europe at an affordable price for European institutional users. It will operate in two configurations: Ariane 62 is fitted with two P120C strap-on boosters while Ariane 64 has four. Ariane 6’s maiden flight is planned for mid-2020.

  • P120C is the largest carbon-fibre solid propellant booster ever built in one segment at almost 13.5 m long and about 3.4 m in diameter. Two boosters will be used on Ariane 6’s maiden flight in 2020

  • P120C’s upcoming first hot static-firing test at Europe’s Spaceport will prove the design, new materials, techniques, tools and components.

  • P120C is 13.5 m long and 3.4 m in diameter – the largest solid-propellant motor ever built in one segment. Two or four will also be used for Ariane 6..

VEGA-C - Launching in one year

  • Vega-C will increase performance from Vega’s current 1.5 t to about 2.2 t to a reference 700 km polar orbit, with no increase in launch costs.

  • Thrust in the first phase of flight comes from new solid-fuel first and second stage motors, P120C and Zefiro-40 respectively.

  • The AVUM+ upper stage, derived from the current Vega AVUM, has been improved. The liquid propellant capacity has been increased by about 150 kg and the structure has been optimised by using carbon composite sandwich panels. Developed by AVIO, it will improve the flexibility of the launcher to deploy one or more payloads thanks to its 2.45 kN main engine and new avionic equipment.

  • Vega-C’s 3.3 m diameter fairing can accommodate larger payloads. An ‘out-of-autoclave’ (carbon-fibre shells are cured in an industrial oven instead of an autoclave. This requires less energy and allows the curing of an entire large half-shell in fewer pieces. It reduces cost, saves time and enables production of very large composite panel)

  • The next milestone in this ambitious schedule is the upcoming Vega launch using equipment that is ready for Vega-C leading into a period when launch facilities accommodate both vehicles.

Staying with Europe

  • Over the past 18 months, ESA and its Member States have gathered in a series of space exploration workshops culminating in a discussion in the ESA Council held in Paris on 13 June 2018.

  • The Council discussed Europe’s ambition to play a leading role in the global exploration of space based on its European Exploration Envelope Programme, (known as E3P) ESA’s three exploration destinations (low Earth orbit, the Moon and Mars) and between human infrastructures, transportation and robotic missions

  • ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker says, “There’s no doubt that the next decade is going to be exciting for space exploration. ESA and its Member States are working hard to keep Europe at the heart of the journey of discovery and fascination that lies ahead, and the Council decision was an important step forward.”

  • Consequently, Member States supported the Director General’s plan to start:

  • negotiating agreements covering the elements of potential ESA contributions to the Lunar gateway, including both transportation and infrastructure;

  • negotiating agreement(s) covering potential European contributions to an international Mars Sample Return mission or other sample return missions;

  • examining scenarios and mission concepts for lunar exploration missions supporting the objectives of the European scientific community;

  • with the aim of finalising the agreements in time for their eventual approval at the Ministerial Council in 2019.

Space and time may have a structure as intricate as the fauna of a rich ecosystem, but on a scale far larger than the horizon of our observations

Happy Birthday Martin John Rees 23 June 1942

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