The 100-ton thrust Prometheus makes extensive use of new materials and new manufacturing techniques to reduce its cost to just one-tenth that of Ariane 2's Vulcan 5
Development of a reusable engine for European missiles is progressing, with full ignition of an early Prometheus prototype. These images were taken on June 22, 2023, at the Arianegroup test center in Vernon, France, during a 12-second burn.
The 100-tonne thrust Prometheus makes extensive use of new materials and new manufacturing techniques to reduce its cost to just a tenth of the cost of Ariane 2's Vulcan 5, an upgraded version of which – Vulcan 2.1 – powers Ariane 6's core stage.
The fuel that Prometheus burns is liquid oxygen - liquid methane. Methane is clean burning and simplifies handling, to help enable reuse and reduce the cost of ground operations before and after flight.
Prometheus has variable thrust and multiple ignition capabilities. Additive layer manufacturing (ALM) known as XNUMXD printing is widely used, which reduces the number of parts, speeds up production and reduces waste.
To carry out the experiments at Vernon and Lampoldshausen, Prometheus consists of a prototype of a reusable rocket stage, called Themis, which is being developed at the same time as the engine. Later, they will try this combination of engine and stage in a series of "detection experiments", rising to a few meters above the ground to test flight and landing capabilities.
Together, Prometheus and Themis are expected to be common technological building blocks for a future family of European launchers.
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