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MT Aerospace and ArianeGroup are combining their respective skills in Augsburg and Bremen to design and test the Prototype of a Highly OptimizEd Black Upper Stage (PHOEBUS). The continuous evolution of the Ariane 6 launcher in terms of greater competitiveness and improved performance requires the exploration and utilization of composite technologies.
PHOEBUS will increase the readiness level of the technologies for an improved upper stage with respect to cost/weight savings and stage performance improvements (payload capacity increase by around two metric tons for geostationary orbit). As from 2021 these technologies will be integrated into an upper stage demonstrator to prove system compatibility with fuels (liquid oxygen and hydrogen on a large scale), and to demonstrate filling and draining processes and integrity of the primary and secondary structures.
To demonstrate the maturity of all enabling technologies both companies are working closely together: ArianeGroup will focus on innovative stage architectures and system integration, while MT Aerospace’s concentrates on materials and technologies for composite tanks and structures under cryogenic conditions. This will pave the way for a subsequent product development of the new upper stage for Ariane 6 evolution to be named Icarus (Innovative Carbon Ariane Upper Stage). Decisions regarding further funding of this carbon- fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) upper stage will be taken at Space19+, the ESA Ministerial Council at the end of this year.