[quote:e9a84f4941]ESA's next generation rocket details emerge
By Rob Coppinger 13/10/08
Details of a next-generation launcher that could be deployed by the European Space Agency in 2025 emerged at the 59th International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow, UK. The launcher could have a payload capability of 5,000kg (11,000lb) to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
A 51m (167ft)-tall 226,000kg gross lift-off weight two-stage rocket, similar in configuration to the EADS Astrium Ariane 5, the new launcher is conceived to have one core-stage, staged-combustion 561,700lb sea-level thrust (2,500kN) engine with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for propellants and two solid rocket boosters.
Without the boosters the GTO payload capability is cut to 3,000kg, while six SRBs would deliver 8,000kg. The Ariane 5 does not use staged combustion - its Vulcain main engine uses a gas-generator cycle. ESA hot-fired its first scale-model staged-combustion engine in February. Staged combustion injects the gas driving the turbomachinery into the combustion chamber to improve performance instead of exhausting it, which a gas-generator cycle does.
The launcher concept was developed by NGL Prime, a European joint venture a prime contractor for ESA in the development and deployment of a new rocket. In its paper, presented at the Glasgow conference, it says: "The possibility to perform heavy missions to [low-Earth orbit]...by adding two liquid boosters derived from the core stage will be investigated in the next step of [Future Launcher Preparatory Programme] activity."
The Ariane 5, operated by launch provider Arianespace, could see its fifth variant, the mid-life evolution, by 2016. The version used today is the ECA with a 9,600kg to GTO capability.[/quote:e9a84f4941]
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