The first nozzle of the P120 solid rocket motor common to the future European launchers left ArianeGroup plant in Le Haillan (South of France) last April for Kourou, the headquarters of the French Guiana Space Centre. This first element of the future European launcher was loaded on M/V “Marfret Guyane. SMIS, project manager for this transport, relied on the company’s French Guiana line and its Le Havre agency.
ArianeGroup has entrusted Marfret with the delivery of the very first nozzle of the Ariane 6 P120 solid rocket motor. The 9-tonne element, carefully protected, left the Haillan factory near Bordeaux by truck to reach the port of Le Havre two days later. On the dock, the M/V “Marfret Guyane”, deployed on Marfret’s Guiana-Amazonia service, was waiting for it.
SMIS, Guiana-Amazonia and Marfret’s local maritime agency mobilized together with GMP, the handling company in Le Havre, to organize the loading under the best possible conditions.
This essential sub-assembly creates thrust by ejecting the motor’s combustion gases. It measures 3.48 m in diameter and 4.34 m high. Delicately placed on a flat rack container, this first nozzle was then loaded into the ship’s hold.
Once the lashing operations were completed, the vessel immediately cast off towards French Guiana. ” Marfret and its SMIS dpt. have created a hand-sewn service to ensure smooth management of transport operations,” explains Louis Bonnefon, director of the Marfret Genevilliers agency and the Specialised Industrial Maritime Services (SMIS) department.
On 25 April, the “Marfret Guyane” docked at Degrad-des-Cannes. The nozzle was immediately unloaded from the ship, thanks to the on-board cranes, and transported the same day in a special convoy to the Guiana Space Centre located 80 km away from the port.
At its destination, the nozzle was fitted to the body of the booster intended for the first firing test on the solid rocket booster test stand. Two other test stand firings will follow to qualify this motor before the flights of Vega-C in 2019 and Ariane 6 in 2020. ” The P120 nozzle is a model of technological success and design to cost. It meets the exacting demands of the Ariane 6 and Vega-C programs” says Yves Traissac, Head of solid fuel propulsion at ArianeGroup.