The race to space: Pronexos makes progress on Ariane 6 project

Last year, Pronexos signed a long-term contract with ArianeGroup for the supply of CFRP technology for the Ariane 6 rocket launch system. The project is now well underway, with Pronexos engineers working hard to deliver pressure vessels ahead of the rocket’s maiden flight.

The Ariane 6 is a new generation of European launch vehicle that is being developed by ArianeGroup. Pronexos is providing Type 4 gas pressure vessels for the Ariane 6, and the company is using the latest technological processes to ensure that these components are light, safe and reliable.

The work on the Ariane 6 project is progressing well, but naturally there have been some challenges. “Working with this complex technology requires a lot of expert understanding,” explains Rüdiger Lunden, Aerospace Project Manager for Pronexos. “One obstacle we have faced is ongoing changes to the Ariane team. The project has recently changed hands to a new project manager and technical lead. This has resulted in extra time spent on getting fresh faces up to speed, but we are lucky to have a tight-knit specialist team here at Pronexos. Our guys are all very close to the project, so have a great understanding of the technology we’re using, which is a great help. Having a strong team involved is key to the project’s success.”

Another challenge that Pronexos are facing is constantly changing parameters. “With the speed of change in this project, it really does feel like a race to space!” exclaims Lunden. “As aerospace is a heavily competitive industry, the customer wants to ensure they are staying up to date with the latest technology. This means their requests are continually expanding. For example, ArianeGroup has asked Pronexos to increase the pressure capacity of our vessels ahead of the maiden flight. This is challenging as it requires additional analysis, increased documentation and requalification of our technology. We are currently in discussions about the feasibility of their requests, but it helps that our relationship is strong. We are working hard to collaborate with the Ariane team and ensure the end product is the best it can be.”

Despite all challenges, Pronexos is confident that it will be able to complete the Ariane 6 project successfully. “We are currently on track to deliver three vessels before the end of the year,” Lunden says with confidence. “These will be for the Ariane 6’s maiden flight, as each launch system needs a trio of gas containers. Right now, we are in the process of qualifying our production processes at our R&D centre in Jülich. Following that stage, we expect to start series production in Q4 2023.”

Pronexos is committed to providing customers with the highest quality products and services. To keep up to date with our journey to space with ArianeGroup, follow us on LinkedIn. For information on our specialist aerospace industrial services, read about our capabilities or contact us directly.


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