GKN Aerospace wins Ariane 6 rocket engine sub-systems contracts
GKN Aerospace will develop and manufacture advanced rocket engine sub-systems for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, under the prime contractorship of Airbus Safran Launchers, after securing major new contracts.
Above: GKN Aerospace sandwich nozzle, the main upgrade on the Vulcain 2.1 engine for Ariane 6.
The contracts cover sub-systems for both the main (VULCAIN 2.1) and upper (VINCI) stage engines for the European Space Agency-led new-generation rocket launcher.
In total GKN Aerospace will provide five complex sub-systems for each Ariane 6 rocket, including four turbine assemblies for the two engines, generating power for the hydrogen and oxygen fuel systems. These turbine assemblies will be manufactured at GKN Aerospace’s engine systems operation in Trollhättan, Sweden.
Above: The GKN Aerospace sandwich nozzle was first hot fire demonstrated at DLR (German Aerospace Centre) inside the Vulcain X programme. Courtesy of DLR
Among the sub-systems being supplied by GKN Aerospace will be an advanced nozzle (SWAN) for the Vulcain 2.1 engine. This is the first flying nozzle to incorporate technologies such as laser-welded sandwich walls and additively manufactured structural reinforcements. By exploiting the company’s expertise in these cutting-edge technologies, GKN Aerospace has developed sandwich nozzle technology that is significantly more robust than earlier versions, can meet increased production rate requirements and has 40% lower manufacturing costs.
Torgny Stenholm, Vice President Services & Special Products GKN Aerospace – Engine Systems, Trollhättan, said: “With the support of the Swedish National Space Board we participated in the initial engine demonstrator programmes which allowed us to work with our customer to prove technologies in operation and at full scale.
"We have also been able to demonstrate the successful migration of a number of advanced technologies between our space activities and commercial aviation, with valuable benefits for commercial aerospace in weight and cost reduction, and faster production rates. These factors, along with our established expertise in metallic nozzles and space turbines, have resulted in the award of this engine sub-systems contract and we look forward to continuing to make a technological contribution to this key European space programme.”
GKN Aerospace’s space business unit in Trollhättan, Sweden, has been active in the Ariane programme from its inception in 1974 and has made over 1,000 combustion chambers and nozzles as well as over 250 turbines for the Ariane rocket to date. Today it is the European centre of excellence for turbines and metallic nozzles, having contributed to the programme at every stage from intial research and development through cooperation with academia to the serial production of the Ariane 5 rocket. Ariane 5 is now the market-leading rocket in the commercial space sector with an outstanding track record of 71 successful launches in a row - and counting. GKN Aerospace’s sub-systems meet the extreme demands of Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2 rocket engine across performance, weight and cost.