Propulsion

Herakles has accumulated more than 40 years of expertise and know-how in the development and production of motors, equipment and materials for space propulsion applications. It is the prime contractor for the Solid Rocket Motors (SRM) that power the Ariane 5 launcher and the first-stage motor (P80) for the Vega launcher, working with its subsidiaries (Europropulsion and Regulus) that are jointly owned with AVIO. Herakles also supplies products and equipment for other launchers in service around the world and for many satellites.

 
Ariane 5 SRM
VEGA’s first launch (feb. 2012)
VEGA P80 Nozzle
Ammonium perchlorate
Ariane 5 SRM Nozzle

Since the start of the European space adventure, Herakles has been involved in every Ariane launcher upgrade and has developed, via its subsidiary company Europropulsion, the solid rocket motors for Ariane 5 and for the first-stage motor (P80) for the Vega launcher.

Herakles now not only produces these two motors but is also involved in their filling with a solid propellant grain, via its subsidiary, Regulus. More directly, Herakles produces the nozzles for Ariane 5‘s SRM and for Vega’s P80 motor, the chemical raw materials used in the manufacture of the propellants, high-performance elastomers (for thermal protection) and equips all the European launchers with high-precision pressure sensors. Herakles also provides, via its subsidiary, PyroAlliance, pyrotechnic systems that perform ignition, stage separation and neutralization functions aboard the European Ariane and Vega launchers, as well as on the Brazilian VLS launcher.

The Ariane 5 launcher’s exceptional reliability record - a continuous series of successful flights since 2002 - is due in no small part to the dependability, availability and performance of solid rocket propulsion. The impressive technical qualities of solid propulsion, combined with its competitive cost, were consolidated recently with the success of the first flight of the Vega launcher, powered primarily by solid rocket stages.

As a center of excellence in solid rocket propulsion, Herakles mobilizes a unique array of expertise to meet the needs of its customer.

Herakles also prepares for the future by participating in all the preliminary projects for the new generation of launchers scheduled to take over from Ariane 5 and by conducting R&D work, particularly on:
- the internal operation of large segmented solid rocket motors, a field in which its expertise is recognized around the world,
- process improvement studies, notably to secure the long-term future and the mid-term upgrading of the Guiana Propellant Plant,
- developing energetic materials and advanced solid propulsion architecture concepts for future space launchers.

As an expert in operational safety, Herakles advises and supports the French Space Agency/Guiana Space Center (CNES/CSG) on matters relating to safety and quality (ESQS – European Space Quality and Safety EIG) and conducts safety studies on the new facilities and production plants within the Guiana Propellant Plant.

Herakles is a world leader in thermostructural composites and is involved in the major international space projects. It designs and produces the extendible exit cone for the Vinci® motor, intended to power the upper stage of the future version of Ariane 5. Herakles also supplies a carbon-carbon composite extendible exit cone for the RL10 B-2 motor (Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne) which propels the upper stage of the Delta IV launcher (ULA).

Herakles is also present in the satellite market, supplying numerous items of equipment and products such as liquid propellants, pyromechanisms, sensors, dimensionally-stable composite structures or thermostructural thermal protection systems.

Propulsion
  • Ariane 5
    The Ariane 5 launcher features two solid propellant boosters, one on either side of the cryogenic core stage. These (...)> See more
  • Vega
    Herakles is a major contributor to the Vega European launcher which features a number of technological innovations. (...)> See more
  • New generation of launchers
    Herakles is a key player in the projects preparing for a new generation of launchers (NGL) and is the prime (...)> See more