In part I of my report I had the pleasure to show you how booster segments for the ESA launcher Ariane 5 are being produced by MT Aerospace in Augsburg, Germany. In part II I will talk about other main components for the Ariane 5 that are constructed in the same factory.
Let me start with talking about dome structures for Ariane 5 tanks. MT Aerospace one of the leading companies that is producing large domes for the tanks of launchers. Thus, MT-A is producing and assembling most of the tank domes for Ariane 5.
For instance, the large inner dome of the LH2 (liquid hydrogen) tank of the ESC-A upper stage is produced here. It is made from a single piece of Aluminium and has a diameter of about 4 m. To reduce the weight of the tank dome large pieces of Aluminium are cutted via milling. A stable grid structure is remaining as can be seen in the image above.
The tank domes for the main stage of Ariane 5 are assembled in Augsburg, too. The domes with a diameter of 5.4 m are significantly larger than the inner dome of the upper stage LH2 tank. Therefore they cannot be produced in one single piece but are assembled from 8 different segments. These 8 segments are welded together in a complicated and challenging process.
The tanks of the Ariane 5 launcher are not assembled at MT Aerospace in Augsburg. The ESC-A upper stage is assembled in Bremen, the main stage tanks in Les Mureaux, France, both in facilities of the Ariane Group (formerly known as Airbus Safran launchers). Therefore the tank domes produced in Augsburg need to go on the road to these factory in special transport canisters. We were lucky to see some of these canisters. A photo of one of these canisters can be seen above. Note, that we needed to get a permission by ESA to publish this image as ESA is the owner of these special transport units.
To my surprise I had spotted a small poster of the future heavy launcher of NASA called SLS (Space Launch System) while touring MT Aerospace. The main contractor Boeing is building this giant launcher for NASA to enable spaceflight beyond LEO (Low Earth Orbit).
Some of you may remember that we use the giant SLS in my universe, too. It is the heavy lifter for my American friends to fly to the MoonDotStation. Here is a short video of a launch:
Back to this universe: We learned that MT-A is a subcontractor and is providing dome segments for the tanks of the SLS main stage as well for the EUS upper stage. These tanks are gigantic in size and have a diameter of 8.4 m. If you want to know more about this topic please have a look here. Did I had the pleasure to spot such a SLS tank dome segment? Well, I am not permitted to deny or confirm this. 😉
Tank domes and boosters are important components for the Ariane 5 launcher. Nevertheless, additional components for the Ariane 5 are produced by MT Aerospace in Augsburg. One big component is the front skirt of the Ariane 5 core stage. This skirt is sitting atop the LOX (liquid oxygen) tank of the core stage and it connects the core stage with the upper stage. The nosecones of the booster are attached here. Additionally, large parts of the avionics for guiding the flight are located in this front skirt. Thus, this front skirt is a very crucial component of the Ariane 5. Almost all things come together here. 😉
Furthermore, some smaller components for the Ariane 5 are produced in Augsburg: small tanks for the core stage, thermal insulation for the boosters as well as the lower connecting ring for the boosters. You see that it is well justified to say that the staff at MT Aerospace Augsburg is building significant components for the ESA launcher Ariane 5. The staff at MT-A can be very proud of this accomplishment.
That is all I want to tell you about Ariane 5 and MT Aerospace. Part III will deal with the future: Ariane 6. Stay tuned for updates!
Part I: Ariane 5 booster segments
Part III: Ariane 6 and MT Aerospace