GKN Aerospace has delivered the first advanced Ariane 6 nozzle (SWAN) to Airbus Safran Launchers in France for the Vulcain 2.1 engine. The new state of the art nozzle, which measures 2.5m in diameter incorporates innovative technologies with higher performance, lower lead times and substantial cost reduction. Large scale use of laser welding and laser metal deposition (additive manufacturing) for key structural features resulted in 90% reduction of component parts, taking it down from approximately 1000 parts to 100 parts.
A demonstrator nozzle has already been successfully trialled in a full-scale engine nozzle test as part of the European Space Agency’s Ariane Research and Technology Accompaniment (ARTA) Program. Now the flight configuration nozzle will be mounted in France to the Vulcain 2.1 engine for a test in Germany. The Ariane 6 is scheduled to enter service in 2020. Airbus Safran Launchers is the prime contractor and GKN’s customer in this development program funded by the European Space Agency.
GKN Aerospace will manufacture the nozzle in a new highly automated manufacturing centre in its facility in Trollhättan, Sweden, which is scheduled to open in 2018. In total GKN Aerospace will provide five complex sub-systems for each Ariane 6 rocket, including four turbine assemblies for the two engines, generating power for the hydrogen and oxygen fuel systems.
“We are proud to be part of the Ariane 6 team. The advanced nozzle manufactured with breakthrough technologies is a true innovation. With the support of the Swedish National Space Board, we participated in the initial engine demonstrator programs. This allowed us to work with our customer to prove the great added value that innovative technologies like additive manufacturing have for the design and production processes in the space and aerospace industry,” said Sebastien Aknouche General Manager Space, GKN Aerospace Engine Systems.
GKN Aerospace’s Space business unit, in Trollhättan, Sweden, has been active in the Ariane program from its inception in 1974 and has made over 1,000 combustion chambers and nozzles as well as over 250 turbines for the Ariane rocket to date. Today it is the European centre of excellence for turbines and metallic nozzles, having contributed to the programme at every stage of initial research and development through cooperation with academia to the serial production.