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Ariane 5 Launches Atlantic Bird, MSG-1 (Aug. 30)

Flight 155 once again underscored the capabilities of the Snecma group in space propulsion and satellite equipment. Through Snecma Moteurs and Europropulsion (an equally-owned joint venture with FiatAvio), Snecma provides the main propulsion systems for the Ariane 5: the Vulcain cryogenic engine and the two MPS solid rocket motors.

The Vulcain engine developed by Snecma Moteurs uses cryogenic liquid hydrogen and oxygen propulsion. It delivers 1,145 kN of thrust - 253,000 lb - for the main stage of the launcher (EPC) for the first ten minutes of the flight (on Flight 155, from T0 to T+9 minutes 36 seconds). Snecma Moteurs leads a team of 40 European companies involved in designing and manufacturing the Vulcain engine, including Snecma group subsidiary Techspace Aero, which makes the cryogenic valves.

The MPS solid rocket motors, which of which delivers 670 tons of thrust, provide more than 90 percent of the thrust for the Ariane 5 liftoff. They function during the first two minutes of the launch (from T + 7 seconds to T+ 2 minutes 23 seconds for Flight 155). Europropulsion, which is responsible for development and production of the solid rocket motors, selected Snecma Propulsion Solide for the steerable nozzle and steel casings for the two motors.

Snecma Moteurs and Snecma Propulsion Solide were both equipment contractors for the two satellites launched by the 13th Ariane launcher. For the Atlantic Bird 1 communications satellite, build by Alenia Spazio (Finmeccanica) for Eutelsat, Snecma Moteurs produced two Sept 23 solar array drive mechanisms. Delivered with the electronic control package, these mechanisms play an essential role in transmitting electrical power to the satellite over its 15-year lifespan

For the MSG-1 weather satellite, build by Alcatel Space for European meteorological agency Eumetsat, Snecma Moteurs teamed with Sofrance, another Snecma group company, to produce the helium filter unit. Snecma Propulsion Solide provided a helium pressure sensor and solid fuel. These units are part of the pressurization and protection systems for the satellite fuel tanks.

The next Ariane 5 launch is scheduled for October 2002 when the payload will be the Stentor satellite. This will be the first launch for the Ariane 5 Evolution version of the launcher, whose propulsion systems are made entirely by Snecma group companies. The launch will mark the entry into service of the Vulcain 2 engine, with 20 percent higher thrust. The engine was delivered to Arianespace in July. The launch will also see the entry into service of the HM7 cryogenic engine. After 14 years of service on the Ariane 4 launcher, the HM7 will power the new cryogenic upper stage of the Ariane 5 in the ESC-A version. The Stentor payload will also benefit from Snecma space propulsion expertise thanks to its PPS 1350 and SPT 100 plasma thrusters.

Ariane 5 Successfully Launches Atlantic Bird 1 And MSG-1