Launcher propulsion and equipment


Since the successful first launch of Ariane 1 on December 24, 1979 from Kourou, French Guiana, placing a 1.5 metric ton payload into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), Safran has continuously shaped the future through contributions to succeeding versions of the Ariane launcher. We have always strived to give our customers propulsion solutions that set the standard in terms of cost and performance. Today's Ariane 5 launcher can boost up to 10,700 kilos into GTO, at, enabling it to handle even the largest geostationary satellites on the market, orbiting at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers (about 22,500 miles). Satellites are now indispensable for a wide range of applications, whether commercial (telecommunications, television, Internet access, etc.), scientific (space exploration, Earth observation, resource management, etc.), dual application (geolocation) or defense (surveillance, etc.).

Today, Airbus Safran Launchers (a 50/50 joint company created by Airbus Group and Safran in 2014, dedicated to launch vehicles) is the prime contractor for the cryogenic propulsion systems on Europe's Ariane 5, the most reliable launcher in the world, which has successfully completed its last 73 missions in a row. Airbus Safran Launchers has developed expertise in the complementary technologies needed to develop both cryogenic propulsion systems, using very-low-temperature liquid hydrogen and oxygen, and solid propulsion systems and associated energetic materials. We make the Vulcain®2 engine for the cryogenic main stage (EPC) used on all versions of Ariane 5, the HM7B engine for the cryogenic upper stage on the Ariane 5 ECA version, and all associated stage equipment.

3.3 million pounds of thrust

Le moteur cryotechnique Vulcain® 2, d’une poussée de 1340kN (135 tonnes), propulse l’Etage Principal Cryotechnique d’Ariane 5. Dérivé du moteur Vulcain® auquel il a succédé avec 20% de poussée supplémentaire, il a été qualifié en vol lors du lancement d’Ariane 5 ECA le 12 février 2005. Fin 2013, les moteurs de la famille Vulcain cumulent 57succès d’affilée en vol sur 10 ans.

Through our subsidiary Europropulsion (jointly owned with Avio of Italy), Airbus Safran Launchers makes the MPS solid rocket motors for the boosters on Ariane 5, which supply 90% of the launcher's liftoff thrust. Europropulsion also makes the solid rocket motor for the P80 first stage of Europe's new-generation light launcher, Vega. In addition, through our subsidiary Pyroalliance, we supply pyrotechnic ignition systems for the Ariane and Vega launchers, as well as Brazil's VLS.

Between the Vulcain cryogenic engine and the solid boosters, Airbus Safran Launchers gives Ariane 5 over 3 million pounds liftoff thrust.

The launcher market today is increasingly competitive, so Safran is developing new- generation solutions. For instance, the Vinci® upper-stage cryogenic engine can be restarted in flight, greatly extending the mission versatility of tomorrow's Ariane launchers


Airbus Safran Launchers50/50 joint company dedicated to launch vehicles, created by Safran and Airbus Group. Airbus Safran Launchers is one of the world's leading manufacturers of rocket engines. It is also a world leader in the design, development and production of solid rocket motors for launchers, with unrivaled experience and expertise in energetic materials and thermostructural composites for space.

Safran Aero Boosters: the company makes modules and components for rocket engines.

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