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MT Aerospace ships the first tank for Ariane 6 to ArianeGroup in Bremen

(4 April 2018 - MT Aerospace) With the hydrogen tank MT Aerospace has delivered the first component for the upper stage for the future European launch vehicle Ariane 6 to the ArianeGroup’s new production center in Bremen. Fabricated in Augsburg using the latest equipment and optimized processes, the tank floors and cylinder panels were assembled by MT Aerospace in Bremen to form a propellant tank.

“Given the tight schedule, we are very proud to be able to supply the first component for the new European launch vehicle Ariane 6 in line with plans,” says Hans J. Steininger, CEO of MT Aerospace AG, which has invested considerable resources in staff training, infrastructure, buildings and machinery for this program. “MT Aerospace has invested EUR 35 million of its own funds as a risk-sharing partner for the development of components for the new Ariane 6,” explains Steininger.

ArianeGroup site manager Dr. Jens Laßmann was very pleased with the delivery of the tank, saying “Here in Bremen, we are also making very good progress on Ariane 6. The delivery of the first tank marks an important milestone. We will be working on it at our new Ariane Center so that it can be integrated in the upper stage of the new Ariane 6 here in Bremen.”

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MT Aerospace has delivered the first hydrogen tank for the Ariane 6 upper stage to the ArianeGroup. (courtesy: MT Aerospace)

Industry 4.0 applications have been installed for the production of the Ariane 6 components. In this connection, a new hall has been built and an existing one converted in Augsburg. State-of-the-art welding systems, machine-to-machine communications (“Internet of Things”) as well as drilling and riveting robots ensure more efficient and therefore cheaper production processes.

At the heart of these productivity gains and this quantum technological leap is the large FSW system. FSW is short for “friction stir welding”. Installed at the beginning of 2018, the system is one of a kind anywhere in the world. “Previously, the welding process took about ten minutes, but the preparation required more than three hours. The new machine reduces the preparation time significantly. Moreover, the machine documents the processes and also performs ultrasonic testing of the components. When the parts leave the FSW system, they are finished and tested. We are indeed seeing a technological advance on a scale of 20 or more years. We are currently building around 30 tank domes a year for Ariane 5. In the future, this figure will rise to around 90. The onset of the Industry 4.0 era is allowing us to triple our productivity,” explains Steininger.

MT Aerospace is playing a crucial role in the development and industrialization of the Ariane 6 launcher system. With an industrial contribution of around 10 percent, MT Aerospace is developing technical innovations for metal structures for enhancing the competitiveness of this future launch vehicle in its capacity as a risk share partner and cluster prime for metal structures.

About MT Aerospace

MT Aerospace is an internationally respected company in the aerospace industry with around 700 employees at sites in Augsburg, Mainz (Germany), Cagliari (Italy) and Kourou (French Guyana). As a member of the listed European space and technology group OHB SE (Prime Standard, ISIN: DE0005936124), it develops and produces key components for the European Ariane launch vehicle, the Airbus fleet, space vehicles and flights. MT Aerospace is the technological leader in light-weight metal and composite engineering and, with a work share of around 10 percent, is the largest non-French components supplier for the Ariane program.

About ArianeGroup

ArianeGroup is responsible for engineering and is the principal industrial contractor for the development and deployment of the Ariane 6 launch vehicle on behalf of the European Space Agency ESA. It heads an industrial network comprising more than 600 companies (including 350 small and mid-size companies) in 13 European countries.