In the third quarter of this year a full-scale demonstration of a Volvo Aero (hall 2, B114) nozzle for the Vulcain 2 engine will take place.

On display at the show Volvo Aero claims the nozzle, called SWEA, will be more robust and cheaper to manufacture using the company's sandwich technology. It will enable the Vulcain 2's rocket, the Ariane 5 ECA, to launch an extra 100kg (220lb) payload. Today's Ariane 5 ECA Vulcain 2 engine nozzle has hundreds of cooling tubes that can be replaced by two sheet-metal cones.

The inner cone is produced using automated ultrasound controlled milling to achieve precision machining to some hundredths of a millimetre in sheet metal with a minimum thickness of 0.6mm, while an outer sheet-metal cone is welded on to the inner sheet-metal cone by automated laser welding using real-time X-rays that detect the hidden weld joint. The sandwich nozzle could be used with other types of rocket engines, says Volvo Aero.

In the existing nozzle, hundreds of thin tubes form a large cone with a complex manifold, which discharges exhaust gases from the rocket engine. And much of the nozzle fabrication work is also labour-intensive. "We worked closely and very productively with the Swedish National Space Board, the French space agency CNES, the German DLR aerospace centre, European Space Agency, Snecma and EADS," says Volvo Aero SWEA project leader Roland Rydén.

"We hope our SWEA sandwich nozzle design will reach technology readiness level six, meaning it is at a stage of development and maturity where it can be used in development activities."

The third-quarter test will be under ESA's Ariane research and technology support programme. Also in the third quarter a smaller sandwich nozzle called Scene will be delivered for hot testing by EADS and the DLR as part of ESA's future launcher preparatory programme's high-thrust engine effort.

Source: Flight Daily News