ArianeGroup presented on Sunday a new “fully reusable” rocket upper stage project, which will be able to carry out manned missions with a crew of five astronauts, a first for Europe in space.
The flexible craft, called Susie, will be able to fly both with an Ariane 6 rocket, whose maiden flight is scheduled for 2023, and with a next-generation heavy launcher, ArianeGroup, a manufacturer of Ariane launchers, explained during the Congress. International Astronautics in Paris.
“Fully reusable”, Susie (Smart Upper Stage for Innovative Exploration) will be an upper stage that will replace the launcher’s fairing to perform missions in space and return to land on Earth, specifies ArianeGroup in a press release.
This return will be “smooth, after a high-precision atmospheric reentry” and a vertical landing. With an “innovative” technology, different from that of the rockets of the American SpaceX: the latter return to Earth immediately after launch, when Susie’s concept foresees a return once the space mission is completed, explained Morena Bernardini, director of strategy. and innovation at ArianeGroup.
A first for Europe in space
Susie will be able to perform automated freighter missions to transport cargo and payloads (satellites), “or manned spaceflight with a crew of up to five astronauts.” It will have a large interior ship of 40 m3, and will be able to “bring up to 7 tons of cargo to land, which is different from anything that exists today,” added Morena Bernardini. The vehicle will be able to reach lunar orbit and will be able to receive an astronaut supply module.
This project is the first for European space, which currently does not master reusable technology and faces fierce competition from launchers from SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company. Europe also does not have a program to send its astronauts into space and relies on a barter system used until now with the Russians and the Americans. Faced with the race for the Moon and the appearance of private actors in manned flights, the European space community is campaigning for it to acquire its own means.
In response to these ambitions, ArianeGroup will present the Susie project at the ministerial meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA), whose 22 member states will meet in November to decide on the budget for the next three years. Susie would complete Thémis, a lower-stage reusable technology demonstrator currently in development within the group.
Source: BFM TV