WASHINGTON — The European Space Agency will ask its 22 member states next month to fund an additional two to eight Prometheus reusable engines so that the agency can further the engine’s development.
ESA, with prime contractor ArianeGroup, has two Prometheus engines being built today, leveraging funds granted at its 2016 ministerial, plus earlier work supported by the French Space Agency CNES.
Jérôme Breteau, ESA’s head of future space transportation, said Oct. 21 at the 70th International Astronautical Congress here that those two engines are on track for test firings in late 2020 at the German Space Agency DLR’s Lampoldshausen facility. ESA will continue engine tests into 2021, but what follows “is the subject of our proposal to the Space19+ ministerial,” he said.
ESA’s tri-annual ministerial conferences are where the agency and its members allocate funds for future space programs. ESA is seeking 12.5 billion euros ($13.9 billion) at its next ministerial, dubbed Space19+, this Nov. 27 and 28th in Seville, Spain.
Breteau said ESA needs to know the outcome of the ministerial before it can lay out the next steps for Prometheus. The agency has “very ambitious” plans for the liquid-oxygen and methane engine, he said.
ESA’s goal with ...