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Avio space projects merge new propulsion technologies with sustainability

Avio is the main contractor of two new projects, coordinated by ESA, for the development of next-generation propulsion technologies


Italian Space Economy keeps growing, also thanks to European NextGenerationEU funds. The Italian Government, European Spage Agency and Italian company Avio have signed two new contracts, with a total value of over 285 million euros, as a new step for the Italian space industry to enhance its technological capabilities in the development of next-generation propulsion technologies and launch system architectures.

Space Economy is a crucial sector of European aconomy. A field in which "Italy can and must have a leadership role thanks to the work done by Italian companies, whose technology receives unanimous recognition", said Minister Adolfo Urso. Reference is particularly to the expertise developed in Italy since the early 2000s, through the European Vega programs, for the development of next-generation propulsion technologies and launch system architectures.

The first program financed by NextGenerationEU, called STS and valued 181.6 million euros, will be dedicated to the development, by 2026, of a flight demonstrator of new technologies and specific projects for a two-stage lightweight launcher with liquid oxygen and methane propulsion, with reduced environmental impact. The main developments are expected in the field of composite material cryogenic tanks, non-pyrotechnic separation systems, and integrated avionics systems based on aeronautical hardware and software extraction.

Liquid oxygen and methane technologies, thanks to their cleaner combustion characteristics, are indicated for potential reuse and today allow extensive use of single-material/single-component 3D printing technologies

The second program, called HTE and financed with 103.7 million euros, will be dedicated to the development of a new liquid oxygen and methane engine with high-performance technology, reduced environmental impact, and high thrust, with its detailed design and the realization of increasingly complex demonstrators up to the ground qualification test by 2026.

The goal of the two projects - commented Giulio Ranzo, CEO of Avio - "is to prepare the ground for future-generation space transportation systems based on liquid propulsion with reduced environmental impact". Avio can leverage the knowledge already developed on a smaller methane engine, capitalizing on this experience for new applications.

The projects will be led by Avio as the main contractor, supported by an Italian industrial supply chain, as well as Italian research centers and universities. "Avio also intends to involve innovative startups and small/medium-sized enterprises to accelerate the product development cycle, also introducing the latest and innovative methodologies of digital system engineering", Ranzo said.

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