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Space Transportation

AESTUS: Upper Stage Engine

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AESTUS: Upper Stage Engine

Bipropellant upper stage engine for the orbital insertion of heavy payloads The Aestus rocket engine powers the Ariane 5 ES and GS version bipropellant upper stage for the insertion of payloads into LEO, SSO and GTO. For the ES version, Aestus uses its re-ignition capability to place ESA's 21 tonne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) into a low Earth orbit. Aestus is a pressure fed engine that consumes up to 10 tonnes of the bipropellant combination MMH/N2O4. Aestus was developed at the Ottobrunn Space Propulsion Centre during the period 1988 - 1995. The first operational flight of Aestus was on Ariane 5 flight 502, launched on 30th October 1997. Together with the Aestus engine, EADS Astrium is responsible for the complete Ariane 5/EPS upper stage, under contract with ESA, with the technical advice of CNES.
Major Sub-Assemblies
? Injector with coaxial injection


The Aestus thrust chamber design is based on the regenerative cooling principle. Prior to combustion, MMH fuel is pressurised into a distribution manifold causing the fuel to flow through narrow, closely arranged channels in the combustion chamber wall, configured to cause a highly efficient cooling. The MMH then enters the injector head which assures uniform propellant flow rate distribution over 132 coaxial injection elements. The unique design of the injection element as well as the proper element distribution along the injector face cause swirl mixing and atomisation of the propellants enabling combustion efficiencies in the chamber in excess of 98% during the remaining combustion process. Upon leaving the injector elements and entering the combustion chamber, the hypergolic propellants spontaneously ignite and are burned and accelerated up to sonic conditions at the throat. The combustion temperature in the combustion chamber reaches about 3000 K at a combustion pressure of 11 bar. Controlling the hot gas wall and MMH coolant temperature levels under the high operating combustion chamber heat fluxes was one of the most challenging tasks that had to be overcome during the development phase. A further challenging task was the development of a new injector element for MMH /N2O4, using the same, highly efficient, coaxial injection principle used on all of our cryogenic thrust chambers. After leaving the combustion chamber, the final acceleration of hot gases up to supersonic velocities is achieved by gas expansion in the radiatively cooled nozzle extension, thereby developing thrust.

Aestus/Ariane 5 upper stage engine

elements for the mixing of propellants.

? Combustion

chamber regeneratively cooled by MMH fuel.

? Nozzle extension, radiatively

? Propellant valves for fuel and

oxidiser, pneumatically operated by pilot valves.

? Gimbal joint mounted at the top of

the injector dome.

? Electromechanical gimbal

actuators for pitch and yaw engine control. Some subassemblies have been subcontracted to partners including the gimbal joint to NAMMO Raufoss (Norway), the nozzle extension to Franke AG (Switzerland), the propellant valves to MOOG (Germany and USA), the flexible propellant lines to Witzenmann (Germany) and the helium filter to Rellumix (France).

EPS/Ariane 5 Upper stage with Aestus engine

AESTUS: Upper Stage Engine

Proven Design and Performance Flexibility

flight 518, launched on 26 February 2004. During the period 2003 - 2007, the Aestus engine underwent a reignition qualification programme in readiness for the first launch of the Automated Transfer Vehicle. The inorbit re-ignition capability of Aestus was subsequently demonstrated during the first launch of ATV aboard Ariane 5 flight 528, launched on 9 March 2008. During ATV mission, the first Aestus ignition occurs immediately after separation of the upper stage composite from the cryogenic main stage. At the end of the first burn, a ballistic phase commences for about 45 minutes. A second ignition then provides a short duration burn for injecting the ATV into its target Low Earth Orbit after separation from the upper stage. A third and final ignition is then used to de-orbit the depleted upper stage into a safe reentry trajectory for burn-up in the upper atmosphere. With its proven flexibility and multiple re-ignition capabilities, the Aestus engine enables a considerable range of mission specific profiles for the Ariane 5 launcher. Ariane 5 ES (with Aestus) is a suitable launcher also for low earth operation missions, e.g. Galileo. N2O4\MMH 324 s 29.6 kN 9.3 kg/s 1.9 17.7 bar 11 bar 84 1.31 m 2.2 m 111 kg 1100 s 43,700 kW 59,400 hp Multiple

The Aestus rocket engine has proven to be a robust and flexible design, evolving harmoniously with the evolution of Ariane 5 and its various missions, as shown in the Aestus Development History below. In addition, by varying the number of coaxial injector elements, the basic Aestus design can be used for higher, or lower thrust applications. A turbopump engine demonstrator version, known as the RS 72/Aestus 2, was derived from the Aestus engine. This so called Pathfinder engine has been hot-fire tested in cooperation with Boeing Rocketdyne (Pratt & Whitney).
Aestus Development History

The Aestus rocket engine was developed at the Ottobrunn Space Propulsion Centre during the period 1988 - 1995. The first flight with Aestus under operation was on Ariane 5 flight 502, launched on 30th October 1997. In the frame of per formance improvements to the complete upper s tage, a delta-qualif ication programme was performed in 1999 2002. Here, the propellant mixture ratio of Aestus was adjusted from 2.05 to 1.9. Subsequently, the first operational flight of the performance enhanced Aestus was on Ariane 5 Propellants Specific impulse vacuum Thrust vacuum Propellant mass flow rate Mixture ratio (TC) Engine feed pressure Combustion chamber pressure Nozzle area ratio Nozzle exit diameter Overall engine length Thrust chamber mass Nominal single firing Power Re-ignition capability

Assembled Thrust Chamber of the Aestus engine

Vacuum Test Platform P4.2 of Aestus at DLR, Lampoldhausen

ASTRIUM Space Transportation Propulsion & Equipment D 81663 Munich, Germany Phone: +49 89 607 32480 Fax: +49 89 607 85480
Thanks to DLR and ESA for their information and pictures