GKN Aerospace has secured a contract from ArianeGroup to manufacture two full-scale turbines for the Prometheus low-cost, re-usable rocket engine demonstrator which will be powered by liquid oxygen and methane propellants.

As part of the contract, GKN Aerospace will use additive manufacturing technology to build the turbines at its automated engine systems centre of excellence in Trollhättan, Sweden.

The turbines will be designed to generate power for the methane fuel system. The first turbine will be delivered next year.

The Prometheus project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), with ArianeGroup serving as the prime contractor of the project.

Last December, ESA and ArianeGroup signed a contract to develop a full-scale demonstrator scheduled to be ground tested in November 2020.

Prometheus is estimated to cost a tenth of the turbines required for Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2 engine.

“We look forward to demonstrate the benefits and the added value in weight and cost reduction, and in faster production rates.”

GKN Aerospace Services and Special Products Engine Systems vice-president and general manager Sébastien Aknouche said: “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.

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“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 demonstrate the benefits and the added value in weight and cost reduction, and in faster production rates.”

GKN Aerospace’s space business unit in Trollhättan has so far built over 1,000 combustion chambers and nozzles as well as more than 250 turbines for ArianeGroup’s Ariane family of rockets.