Themis tanking test marks milestone in ESA’s path to reusability

The ESA (European Space Agency) has taken a major step towards developing reusable rockets with the completion of a series of tanking tests for its Themis vehicle, which will serve as a testbed for the agency to experiment with launch and landing operations. After initially announcing plans for a reusable rocket – Ariane Next – to succeed the Ariane 6 rocket currently in development, as well as the potential to incorporate reusability into Ariane 6 itself, the ESA has been working quietly on the project. While the initial announcements outlined hop tests of a pathfinder vehicle, Themis, the agency has recently given an update to its plans, whose ultimate goal is the development of a launch vehicle with a reusable first stage in the 2030s. In a recent test series of six tests, two of the steel propellant tanks for Themis were successfully filled with cryogenic propellants and then detanked multiple times. This series of tests, comparable to those recently carried out on SpaceX’s Starship and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan pathfinder vehicle, serve to reduce the risk of an electrical or tank malfunction with the completed vehicle. The tanking tests have utilized the PF20 test stand at ArianeGroup’s facility in…

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Themis tanking test marks milestone in ESA’s path to reusability

Updated: December 8, 2021 — 9:26 am