The turbines will generate power for the methane fuel system, with the first turbine to be delivered at the end of 2019. Manufacturing will take place in cooperation with partners and at GKN Aerospace’s automated engine systems centre of excellence in Trollhättan, Sweden.
The new-state-of-the-art turbine with all its challenging loads - including very high pressure, high speed and high temperatures - incorporates the latest additive manufacturing (AM) technologies that offer higher performance, lower lead times and significant cost reduction. This innovative development will support the next step in AM: namely, the use of this technology for future higher loaded critical components in terms of pressure, temperature and rotational speed.
Sébastien Aknouche vice president and general manager, services and special products engine systems, said: “With the support of the Swedish National Space Agency, ESA, and ArianeGroup, we are proud to participate in the Prometheus project and to make a technological contribution to this key European space project. This allows us, together with our suppliers, to work with our customer to develop and demonstrate advanced AM technologies in operation and at full scale. We look forward to demonstrating the benefits and the added value in weight and cost reduction, and in faster production rates. These factors, along with our established expertise in space turbines, have resulted in the award of this engine turbine contract.”
GKN Aerospace’s space business unit, in Trollhättan, Sweden, has been active in the Ariane programme since its inception in 1974 until the current Ariane 6 partnership 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 initial research and development through cooperation with academia to the serial production.
Prometheus is an ESA funded program for a low-cost re-usable rocket engine demonstrator on methane propellant, with ArianeGroup as the Prime Contractor.