June 18, 2009

ESA signs launcher engine contract

The European Space Agency has signed a $27.8 million contract for the development of a liquid engine prototype for the European next generation launcher.

The contract -- signed Wednesday during the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, France -- involves 14 European companies in nine countries.

The High Thrust Engine Demonstrator Project has already delivered significant technological achievements, including several European 'firsts.' It will prepare key technical and programmatic data for the ESA Ministerial Conference in 2011 and beyond, Jerome Breteau, ESA's propulsion project manager said. Industry will assess the different technologies Europe will be adopting for the development of a main propulsion system for the Next Generation Launcher intended to enter service in 2020-25.

Space agency officials said liquid propulsion was selected for main stage propulsion because of its flexibility, growth potential and proven record.