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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Zefiro 40 engine bench test

Second stage new launcher Vega C

Four weeks of preparation, 20 skilled technicians and operators involved, over 500 measurements recorded by the sensors during the 92-second ignition, enough to burn 36 tonnes of solid propellant and generating a thrust 4 times higher than the maximum power developed by the engine of a modern passenger aircraft.

The Zefiro 40 engine test took successfully place in recent day in Sardinia and it’s the first functional test required to qualify this new propulsion system. During the test, which was performed at sea level, all of the parameters were gathered to calculate the engine’s behaviour at conditions very close to what the Z40 will encounter in actual operation: ignition at about 50 km above the earth’s surface after separation of the first stage P120.

In fact, the Zefiro 40 engine is the second stage propulsion system of the Vega C satellite launcher, an evolution of the current Vega and scheduled to lift off for its maiden flight in 2019. With Vega C performance will be increased by 60%. This extends the market accessible to this launch vehicle from 50% to 90% of LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites, a significant part of which as multiple payload launches.

Main characteristics of the Zefiro 40:


Avio will be responsible for the launcher in its entirety while, in collaboration with ArianeGroup , it will be responsible for the P120C solid propellant engine, which was derived from the first stage of the Vega P80 Launcher and will be made with prepreg carbon fibre material using Filament Winding technology.

The launcher burns approximately 187 tonnes of solid propellant and 0.7 tonnes of liquid propellant. In order to achieve the greatest level of synergies among European launchers, the P120C engine has also been designed for use as a booster for the new Ariane 6.

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