The European Space Agency (ESA) is to invest about €90 million to the Ariane Group in order to develop a new engine for the Ariane 6 rocket, itself coming to the end of its design stage.
The plan is for the new engine (dubbed Astris) to perform a ‘kick’ stage, and mounted as an addition to the current Ariane 6 upper stage.
The new engine will help Arianespace perform multiple propulsion option during satellite launch operations. The engine could also help boost a cargo as a ‘deep space’ option and giving higher speeds for such tasks including the Moon and Mars.
The new engine should debut in 2024. The Ariane 6 rocket is scheduled to make its first flight later in 2022.
“[Astris] is an important element to enable flexible in-space transportation services, such as space logistics, in-orbit servicing and specific exploration missions,” said ESA Director of Space Transportation Daniel Neuenschwander.