Space

June 29, 2012

Liberty second stage one step closer to production

Astrium, the number one company in Europe for space technologies and systems, has successfully completed a set of tests on tank structures proving that key design and manufacturing processes used for Ariane launchers are ready for production of the Liberty commercial launch vehicle second stage with ATK.

The tests covering load-carrying cryogenic tanks demonstrate that existing Astrium processes can be leveraged to confirm the overall Liberty schedule and enable a speedy entry into service – and into orbit. Astrium is also working on leaner production processes for the second stage to bring best value to the Liberty launch vehicle.

Liberty is a complete commercial crew transportation service, including the spacecraft, abort system, launch vehicle, and both ground and mission operations, designed from inception to meet NASA’s human-rating requirements with a planned first test flight in 2014 and Liberty crewed flight in 2015. Astrium, as a major subcontractor, will provide the second stage of the Liberty launch vehicle – based on the liquid-fuelled cryogenic core of the Ariane 5 vehicle powered by the Safran-built Vulcain 2 engine. The Ariane 5 launcher, for which Astrium is the Prime Contractor, was developed under the aegis of the European Space Agency and is operated by Arianespace. With 48 consecutive successful missions over nearly nine years, it is the world’s most reliable launcher. This includes the launch of three Autonomous Transfer Vehicles to resupply the International Space Station in the last four years. During this time, the Ariane 5 has launched more commercial satellites into orbit than any other launch vehicle in the world.

A film from the Astrium site in les Mureaux, near Paris (France), shows the work done to complete the stage testing. It shows the machining, forming, computerized automatic welding and inspection of cryogenic tank elements to provide the increased thickness and stiffened profiles necessary for the Liberty second stage. An additional tank panel of increased thickness is welded and tested in a cryogenic environment at the Euro Cryospace facilities (an Astrium and Air Liquide joint-venture). These successful tests demonstrate that Astrium’s manufacturing technology has the capability to process panels that are several times thicker than those of Ariane 5. These panels meet the needs for the strengthened cryogenic tanks of Liberty’s second stage.

“These tests take the Liberty second stage one step closer to production,” said Alain Charmeau, CEO of Astrium Space Transportation. “They demonstrate conclusively that our proven processes can manufacture thicker and stiffer cryogenic tanks for the Liberty second stage.

“Welding, machining, and forming space hardware is a highly sophisticated industrial process. Our extensive experience in manufacturing all Ariane launchers has given us comprehensive and unmatched capability that we can now utilize for a new commercial space transportation system – Liberty. We are proud to be a valued partner alongside ATK and Lockheed Martin and look forward to the success of Liberty,” he continued.

“Astrium’s world-class commercial launch team provides unique vehicle and systems capabilities to Liberty,” said Kent Rominger, ATK program manager for Liberty. “These tests by our Astrium teammates demonstrate how our flight-proven Liberty team is hard at work and keeping Liberty on schedule for first launch in 2014.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 
 
Image courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Satellite study reveals parched U.S. West using up underground water

Image courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation The Colorado River Basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet of freshwater over the past nine years, according to a new study based on data from NASA’s GRACE mission. This is almost d...
 
 

NASA selects contract for mission support services at Ames

NASA has selected Wyle Laboratories, Inc., Houston, to support NASA’s flight programs and mission projects, providing support for multiple sustained project management, research and technology development capabilities that encompass all phases of mission and project lifecycles at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The cost-plus-fixed-fee hybrid contract has a...
 

 
NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI) and N. Madhusudhan (UC) image

Hubble finds three surprisingly dry exoplanets

NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI) and N. Madhusudhan (UC) image This is an artistic illustration of the gas giant planet HD 209458b in the constellation Pegasus. To the surprise of astronomers, they have found much less water vapor i...
 
 
Air Force photograph

Budget cuts, growing threats affect space operations

Air Force photograph The Advanced Extremely High Frequency, or AEHF, system is a joint service satellite communications system that provides survivable, global, secure, protected and jam-resistant communications for high-priori...
 
 

NASA partners punctuate summer with spacecraft development advances

Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their† Space Act Agreements with the agency. NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>