A key objective of the future-oriented FACC Roadmap 2030 is to tap into further business fields alongside the core aerospace business. Lightweight solutions for aerospace form part of this strategy. FACC has now been able to secure the first project in its new Space business segment. The company has received an order from the ArianeGroup to develop and manufacture the Astris kick stage main structure for the Ariane 6 family of launch vehicles.
Lightweight innovations for commercial aircraft, business jets, helicopters, aircraft engines and, ultimately, drones are part of FACC’s core competence. FACC is now broadening the scope of application of its lightweight construction technologies to include the aerospace industry. With the development and production of the Astris kick stage main structure for the Ariane 6 family of launch vehicles, FACC AG has been awarded a major contract that will open up completely new opportunities for the company in commercial space travel.
Robert Machtlinger, CEO of FACC, is thrilled with the first contract for European space travel: “By awarding us a contract to participate in the Ariane 6 rocket, the ArianeGroup has placed its trust in us to help shape the new generation of European launch vehicles as a development and manufacturing partner. For us, Space is an important future topic, which we have defined as a new business field in our 2030 corporate strategy. This is an area where we can make valuable use of our FACC composite technologies, which we have been developing for the aviation industry over the past decades. Our goal is to apply our lightweight construction expertise and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities to provide a carbon solution for the load-bearing structure of Ariane 6 kick stage that will reduce weight and enable use for commercial space transportation through efficient series production.”
The ArianeGroup is one of the leading enterprises in the field of space transportation. With its new launch vehicle, the company aims to offer maximum flexibility to its customers in institutional and commercial markets. Ariane 6 is a program of the European Space Agency (ESA), and is designed to provide independent access to space for a wide range of missions.
Off to new spheres with Ariane 6
The kick stage main structure, which will be developed and produced by FACC, is the load-bearing structure of an additional optional stage of Ariane 6 designed to expand its mission range. The component is characterised by its high-strength and ultra-light carbon materials and carries, in addition to the actual payload, four fuel tanks, the newly developed Berta engine and state-of-the-art flight electronics into higher spheres. Thanks to the innovative kick-stage solution, the Ariane 6 rocket will be even more versatile and capable of longer missions, carrying payloads of all kinds into an optimised orbit.
The first delivery is scheduled to arrive in Bremen in October 2022. There, the kick stage will undergo further tests for its possible first mission, the ESA’s Hera mission – an important step for planetary asteroid defense technology. The goal of Hera is to test the extent to which an asteroid can be deflected from its trajectory by means of two comets passing by the Earth.
For FACC, this is not only a contribution to an important mission of the future – the project also brings the technology group a big step closer to reaching the objective of its corporate strategy 2030: to look beyond existing horizons and thus establish itself as an innovator of the entire aerospace industry.
About Ariane 6
Ariane 6 – a European Space Agency (ESA) program – is a family of launchers designed to offer institutional and commercial customers maximum flexibility through its ability to place all types of payloads into an optimized orbit, regardless of the mission: low Earth orbit (LEO), geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) or sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). With considerable under-fairing volume, Ariane 6 can perform conventional single or dual launches as well as complex missions for new market needs, such as orbiting of electrical propulsion satellites or multiple constellation launches, thanks to its upper stage equipped with the re-ignitable Vinci® engine. (Source: www.ariane.group)
ArianeGroup develops and supplies innovative and competitive solutions for civil and military space launchers, with expertise in all aspects of state-of-the-art propulsion technologies. ArianeGroup is lead contractor for Europe’s Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launcher families, responsible for both design and the entire production chain, up to and including marketing by its Arianespace subsidiary, as well as for the missiles of the French oceanic deterrent force. ArianeGroup and its subsidiaries enjoy a global reputation as specialists in the field of equipment and propulsion for space applications, while their expertise also benefits other industrial sectors. The group is a joint venture equally owned by Airbus and Safran, and employs approximately 9,000 highly qualified staff in France and Germany. Its 2020 revenues amounted to 2.7 billion euros. (Source: www.ariane.group)
All images credited to ArianeGroup