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Propelling
space titans

Design and production of cryogenic tanks and equipment,
 production of industrial gases that act as a propellant, operational support
 and provision of services associated with the launch site…
 Thanks to its know-how in cryogenics and gas applications, Air Liquide is involved in every
 major stage of the life of a launcher from design to lift off, on ground and on board.

1

On the ground: on the launch site

Production and supply of propulsion fluids

Supply of launch pad and mast distribution systems

Supervision and maintenance of the oxygen and hydrogen tanks

Production and supply of propulsion and inerting fluids (oxygen, hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, compressed air)

Production and supply of propulsion fluids

In French Guiana, Air Liquide supplies the propulsion and implementation fluids (liquid oxygen and hydrogen) of the Ariane, Vega and Soyouz launchers. For example, in the case of Ariane 5, these fluids are supplied in semimobile tanks positioned near the launch base and connected to the launcher through highly insulated pipes. Every launch requires 420,000 liters of liquid oxygen and 800,000 liters of liquid hydrogen

Supply of launch pad and mast distribution systems

The launch pad is an enormous mobile metal structure that, on its own, weighs 850 tons. It is equipped with an umbilical mast, which stands at a height of 58 meters and houses the installations necessary to feed and control the launcher. Air Liquide supplies and operates all of the distribution systems that supply liquid oxygen and hydrogen to the cryogenic main stage (EPC).

The mast also supports the two cryogenic arms needed to fill and empty the cryogenic upper stage (ESC-A).

Supervision and maintenance of the oxygen and hydrogen tanks

On behalf of Arianespace and the French National Space Agency (CNES), Air Liquide ensures the supervision and complete maintenance of the cryogenic equipment, EPC and ESC-A tanks as well as all of the tubes that connect the launcher, the arms and the pipelines to the installations on the ground.

Production and supply of propulsion and inerting fluids (oxygen, hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, compressed air)

Gaseous helium is used to inert the transfer lines, particularly the liquid oxygen and hydrogen lines of Ariane 5. In its liquid state, helium is used to maintain the pressure of the EPC tanks, which contain liquid hydrogen and oxygen, as they are emptied.

Compressed air is used for different parts of the launcher.

Finally, nitrogen is supplied in its gaseous state, at 250 bar, through a pipeline that supplies the launch zone.

2

Lift off

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Lift off! Ignition of the cryogenic main stage (EPC) and then of the two solid propellant boosters (EAP) that surround it to propel the rocket out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Pyrotechnic systems later detach the EAPs from the rocket.

3

Separation of the nose cone

Once out of the Earth’s atmosphere, the rocket’s nose cover is released. The engine continues to power the rocket. The nose cone and the tanks then come away, releasing the cryogenic upper stage (ESC-A).

4

Separation of the upper stage and satellite

Propulsion continues for approximately 15 minutes before stopping. The rocket - or more specifically, the “payload” (man-made satellite or space probe that the rocket has to place in orbit) - freed from the elements that surround it, continues its ballistic flight before deploying its two satellites in a geostationary orbit.