The Prometheus is a reusable rocket engine demonstrator that uses liquid oxygen–methane propellant. The European Space Agency and ArianeGroup are developing a full-scale demonstrator to be ground tested in late 2020.

GKN Aero Contracted for AM Rocket-Engine Turbines

Sept. 4, 2018
First rocket-engine turbines produced by additive manufacturing in Europe will contribute to progress of additive manufacturing for critical components operating at elevated pressures, temperatures, and rotational speeds.

GKN Aerospace will develop and produce two full-scale turbines for the demonstrator models of a re-usable rocket engine demonstrator, the Prometheus. Prometheus is conceived as a liquid-oxygen and methane-fueled engine being developed by the European Space Agency for the Ariane 6 rocket, or its successor.

The two turbines are described as the first rocket-engine turbines produced by additive manufacturing in Europe. They will be produced at GKN Aerospace’s space business unit, in Trollhättan, Sweden. That operation has been active in the Ariane program from its inception in 1974, and to-date it has manufactured over 1,000 combustion chambers and nozzles, as well as over 250 turbines for the Ariane rocket.

Delivery of the first new turbine is scheduled for 2019. Other terms of the GKN Aerospace contract and the production process were not announced.

The turbines will generate power for the methane fuel system, and are being designed to endure very high pressure, high speed, and high temperatures. According to GKN Aerospace, the project will contribute to the development of additive manufacturing technology for producing critical components that operate at elevated pressures, temperatures, and rotational speeds.

“With the support of the Swedish National Space Agency, ESA, and ArianeGroup, we are proud to participate in the Prometheus project and to make a technological contribution to this key European space project,” according to Sébastien Aknouche vice president and general manager, Services and Special Products, Engine Systems.

“This allows us, together with our suppliers, to work with our customer to develop and demonstrate advanced AM technologies in operation and at full scale. We look forward to demonstrating the benefits and the added value in weight and cost reduction, and in faster production rates.”

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