In February, the European rocket maker Ariane Group announced the creation of an “acceleration platform” to speed development of future launch vehicles.
“In this era of NewSpace and in the context of fierce competition, ArianeWorks will accelerate innovation at grassroots level, in favor of mid-tier firms and start-ups, with commitment to reducing costs a major priority,” a news release sent to Ars states.
As part of the announcement, the organizations released a promotional video for the group’s first step—a so-called Themis demonstrator. The goal of this project is to build a multiple-engine first-stage rocket that launches vertically and lands near the launch site. The rocket will be powered by Europe’s Prometheus engine, a reusable liquid oxygen and methane engine that may cost as little as $1 million to build.
The new video is striking because of how similar the Themis demonstrator of “breakthrough technologies” looks to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Even the engines, with a thrust of 100 tons each, are similar to the output of the Merlin 1D that powers the Falcon 9 rocket. (One difference is that the Merlin 1D engine uses kerosene fuel instead of methane).
The promotional video shows a rocket taking off and then jumps to a landing, complete with four landing legs. A new rocket then takes off as another one lands—similar to concepts SpaceX has discussed for its next generation-rocket and Starship.
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