LES MUREAUX, France – Airbus Defence and Space on June 5 unveiled the product of what it said was a five-year effort to design a reusable Ariane rocket first-stage engine and avionics package, a project company official said was stimulated by SpaceX’s work on reusable rockets.
Airbus officials said they believe they have resolved some of the issues inherent in Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX’s reusability effort, notably the exposure of the first stage engine to high-speed stresses as it descends through the atmosphere to its landing zone.
Airbus’s Adeline — short for Advanced Expendable Launcher with Innovative engine Economy — also imposes a much smaller performance penalty on its rocket than is the case for SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 first stage, all the while reusing 80 percent of the stage’s economic value — the engine, avionics and propulsion bay.
Addressing a press briefing at the Airbus facility here, company officials said they had worked for five years, outside the Airbus campus, in secrecy to secure the patents needed for Adeline. Part of the work was done with sister company Airbus Military Aircraft, whose work on unmanned aircraft and other atmospheric vehicles was used in Adeline’s iterations.
Airbus has openly said in recent months that it is seeking inspiration from Silicon Valley, with company Chief Executive Tom Enders leading the management team for a tour of the region earlier this year.
More recently, Airbus created a $150 million venture capital fund, based in Silicon Valley, to develop a range of technologies.
Adeline draws on the same inspiration. Benoit Isaac, Adeline project manager, said the small project team has been working out of a garage developing scale models of the Adeline vehicle — with two winglets and two rotary motors to guide the engine composite back to Earth for a horizontal landing on an airstrip — with a start-up mentality.
Denis Masi: Angela Flowers Gallery, 11 Tottenham Mews, London W1, May 5-May 30 1981 : Spacex Gallery, 45 Preston Street, Exeter, October 9-Novemeber 7 ... Liverpool L1 3BX January 9-February 5 1982
Book (Spacex Gallery)
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