MT Aerospace signs contracts for the development of the upper stage metallic tank of ARIANE 5 ME

  • New tank design will hold twice the propellant mass compared to today’s ARIANE 5 ECA
  • New manufacturing technologies to improve production efficiency

Augsburg, 25 June, 2014. MT Aerospace AG, a subsidiary of the European aerospace and technology group OHB AG, received two contracts from Airbus Defence & Space, Prime Contractor of the A5ME launcher development programme, and from the European Space Agency ESA with a total value of 62.8 M€ for respectively the development and further qualification of the metallic propellant tank of the new liquid upper stage of the ARIANE 5 Mid-life Evolution (A5 ME), and the related production facilities.

The A5 ME launcher will be the most powerful configuration of ARIANE 5 to date with a payload capacity of at least 12 tons to geostationary orbit, around 20% more than ARIANE 5 ECA (A5 ECA) today, and is on track to enter into service mid-2018.

The new cryogenic tank will double the propellant capacity of the A5 ME upper stage to 28 tons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. With a compact 2-compartment design the new tank features a common bulkhead design, which will improve the dry mass ratio compared to the A5 ECA separate tank configuration with a minimum increase in length. Manufacturing facilities design accommodate some features enabling a future upgrade to the ARIANE 6 upper stage tank manufacturing needs that is presently design to preserve a good level of commonality with A5 ME. “With A5 ME, we are proud to introduce new manufacturing technologies to the ARIANE 5 program, such as spin-forming and friction-stir welding, with which we raise the production efficiency to a new improved level”, said Hans J. Steininger, CEO of MT Aerospace. The first flight unit is scheduled for delivery in spring 2016. 

MT Aerospace is doing a very good job in managing this complex development and keeping the program on schedule”, said Pier Domenico Resta, ESA Program Manager of the adapted A5 ME and Ariane 6 Upper Stage and Commonalities. “The new manufacturing technologies, developed by MT Aerospace, will reduce production steps and improve robustness of the production process”. “This gives sound basis and strong motivation to keep working on production cost reduction in view of present challenges to competitiveness of the European launcher’s Ariane on the market” adds Catherine Poncheval, A5ME Launcher Programme Manager within Airbus Defence & Space.

About Airbus Defence and Space
Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs some 40,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €14 billion per year.

About ESA
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.  ESA is an international organisation with 20 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

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