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N° 31–2000: Ariane-5 booster test firing at the Guiana Space Centre

10 May 2000

A test firing of an Ariane-5 solid rocket motor (MPS) is to take place on 16 May on the booster teststand (BEAP) at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport in Kourou, under the Ariane-5 Research and Technology Accompaniment programme.

ARTA-5 is a European Space Agency programme with CNES as prime contractor. Its objectives are to verify that Ariane-5 launcher qualification, reliability and performance levels are maintained and also to qualify modifications resulting from obsolescence or changes in technology. ARTA activities cover the solid rocket motors built by Europropulsion.

This motor test will also serve to qualify Ariane-5 improvements designed to increase launcher lift-capability and get production costs down.

Overall planning for the test is built around four main objectives.

Qualify new procurement sources for one constituent of the propellant, involving use of a European-produced binder in MPS*middle segment S2*.Evaluate the effect of ageing on an over 6-year-old nozzle and analyse behaviour in the various areas (flexible bearing, membrane, housing, immersion cone, bonding) having undergone ageing.Qualify an 'increased-load' forward segment S1* containing an extra 2.4t of solid propellant (10% of its mass). The new definition of this segment, which delivers about 50% of the thrust during the first part of the burn, will raise launcher GTO lift-capability by about 200 kg.Validate repairs to rear segment S3*.

Other objectives targeted under this test notably involve: simplifying the boosters' electrics ducts (which will henceforth be bonded directly onto the booster skin, not fixed to contacts); and stretched nozzle testing, heralding a forthcoming development.

Preparations for the test being carried out by a team about fifteen-strong initially involved recommissioning the stand, which had been mothballed since 1995. This reactivation phase - lasting the three months from late-September to late-December 1999 - was needed in order to reinstall all previously dismantled systems (mechanical, fluids, etc.). Then followed a phase from late-January to mid-March 2000, required to configure the various facilities (software, firing sequence, nozzle actuating, measurement acquisition, etc.) in line with the scheduled firing.

The prime contractor for the test is Europropulsion, which defines the objectives and supplies the specimen. Responsibility for conducting the test has been assigned to CNES, whose role covers stand deployment, supplying the test facilities and conducting operations with Arianespace's assistance.

* MPS / EAP

The solid rocket motor (275t, including 240t of propellant) built by Europropulsion comprises a nozzle, an igniter and three loaded segments: the 26t S1, 107t S2 and 107t S3.

The solid-propellant booster developed by Aerospatiale Matra Lanceurs is the complete stage incorporating the motor with all command systems, (ignition, flight control, destruct and possibly recovery), forward/aft skirts and connections to the launcher's core stage.

The test results will be presented at a joint ESA/CNES/Europropulsion press conference at ESA Headquarters, Paris on 18 May at 11:00 hours. Journalists wishing to attend are asked to complete and return by fax the attached accreditation form as soon as possible to:

+33(0)1.53.69.7690.

For further information, please contact:

Franco Bonacina

ESA, Media relations

Tel.: +33(0)1.53.69.7155

Fax: +33(0)1.53.69.7690

fbonacin@hq.esa.fr

Sandra Laly

CNES, Service de Presse

Tel.: +33(0)1.44.76.7732

sandra.laly@cnes.fr

Websites:

ESA : www.esa.int

CNES: www.cnes.fr

CSG : www.csg-spatial.tm.fr


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