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For other uses of "Vulcain", see Vulcain (disambiguation).
The Vulcain engine in a museum
Country of origin France
First flight 04 June 1996
Last flight 18 December 2009
Designer Snecma
Manufacturer Snecma
Application Main stage engine
Associated L/V Ariane 5
Successor Vulcain 2
Status Retired
Liquid-fuel engine
Propellant Liquid oxygen / Liquid hydrogen
Mixture ratio 6.2
Cycle Gas generator
Nozzle ratio 45.1
Thrust (vac.) 1,140 kN (256,300 lbf)
Chamber pressure 100 bar
Isp (vac.) 431 s (4.23 km/s)
Length 3.05 m
Diameter 1.76 m
Dry weight 1,300 kg (2,900 lb)
Used in
Ariane 5 G and GS
References [1][2][3]
Vulcain 2
SNECMA Vulcain II.jpg
The Vulcain 2 engine
Country of origin Germany
First flight 12 February 2005
Designer Safran
Manufacturer Safran / Ottobrunn Space Propulsion Centre / AVIO...
Application Main stage engine
Associated L/V Ariane 5
Predecessor Vulcain 1
Status In use
Liquid-fuel engine
Propellant Liquid oxygen / Liquid hydrogen
Mixture ratio 6.7
Cycle Gas generator
Nozzle ratio 58.2
Thrust (vac.) 1,359 kN (305,500 lbf)
Chamber pressure 117.3 bar
Isp (vac.) 429 s (4.21 km/s)
Length 3.44 m
Diameter 2.09 m
Dry weight 1,800 kg (4,000 lb)
Used in
Ariane 5 ECA, ES


Test firing of the Vulcain 2 engine in May 2004

Vulcain is a family of European first stage rocket engines for the Ariane 5. Its development began in 1988 and the first flight was completed in 1996. The updated version of the engine – Vulcain 2 was first successfully flown in 2005. Both members of the family use liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen cryogenic fuel. As of 2012 no new version of the engine is in development.


The development of Vulcain, assured[clarification needed] by a European collaboration, began in 1988 with the Ariane 5 rocket program.[8] It first flew in 1996 powering the ill-fated flight 501 without being the cause of the disaster, and had its first successful flight in 1997 (flight 502). In 2002 the upgraded Vulcain 2 with 20% more thrust[9] first flew on flight 517[clarification needed], although a problem with the engine turned the flight into a failure.[10] The cause was due to flight loads being much higher than expected, as the inquiry board concluded.[11] Subsequently the nozzle was redesigned to include mechanical reinforcement of the structure and improvement of the thermal situation of the tube wall through enhancing hydrogen coolant flow as well as applying a thermal barrier coating to the flame-facing side of the coolant tubes.[11] The first successful flight of the (partially redesigned) Vulcain 2 occurred in 2005 on flight 521.[10]

Future development[edit]

Although different upgrades to the engine have been proposed,[12] there is no current program to develop an uprated version of the engine. If there will ever be one, it is likely that the new engine would be introduced after the "PA batch" of 30 Ariane 5 ECAs ordered on 10 May 2004[13][14] will be expended.

On 17 June 2007 Volvo Aero announced that in spring of 2008 it expected to hot-fire test a Vulcain 2 nozzle manufactured with a new "sandwich" technology.[15]


The Vulcain engines are gas-generator cycle cryogenic rocket engines fed with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. They feature regenerative cooling through a tube wall design, and the Vulcain 2 introduced a particular film cooling for the lower part of the nozzle, where exhaust gas from the turbine is re-injected in the engine [11] They power the first stage of the Ariane 5 launcher, the EPC (Étage Principal Cryotechnique, main cryogenic stage) and provide 8% of the total lift-off thrust[16] (the rest being provided by the two solid rocket boosters). The engine operating time is 600 s in both configurations.[17] 3 m tall and 1.76 m in diameter, the engine weighs 1686 kg and provides 137 t of thrust in its latest version.[18] The oxygen turbopump rotates at 13600 rpm with a power of 3 MW while the hydrogen turbopump rotates at 34000 rpm with 12 MW of power. The total mass flow rate is 235 kg/s, of which 41.2 kg/s are of hydrogen.


The main contractor for the Vulcain engines is Snecma Moteurs (France), which also provides the liquid hydrogen turbopump. The liquid oxygen turbopump is responsibility of Avio (Italy), and the gas turbines that power the turbopumps and the nozzle are developed by GKN (Formerly Volvo) (Sweden).[16]

See also[edit]

Comparable engines[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ EADS Astrium. "Vulcain Rocket Engine - Thrust Chamber". Airbus Defence and Space. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "V169 Presskit" (PDF). Arianespace. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "Vulcain". Astronautix. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  4. ^ EADS Astrium. "Vulcain 2 Rocket Engine - Thrust Chamber". Airbus Defence and Space. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Ariane 5 - Europe’s Heavy Launcher" (PDF). European Space Agency. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Vulcain®2". Safran. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Vulcain 2". Astronautix. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Vulcain – Summary". SPACEandTECH. Retrieved 2006-12-16. 
  9. ^ "Vulcain 2 engine now in full production". European Space Agency. 2005-04-05. Retrieved 2006-12-16. 
  10. ^ a b "Ariane 5 Data Sheet". Space Launch Report. 2005-11-29. Retrieved 2006-12-15. 
  11. ^ a b c L. Winterfeldt, Volvo Aero Corporation, Trollhättan, Sweden; B. Laumert, Volvo Aero Corporation, Trollhättan, Sweden; R. Tano, Volvo Aero Corporation, Trollhättan, Sweden; P. James, Snecma, Vernon, France; F. Geneau, Snecma, Vernon, France; R. Blasi, EADS Space Transportation, Ottobrunn, Germany & G. Hagemann, EADS Space Transportation, Ottobrunn, Germany (2005-07-10). "Redesign of the Vulcain 2 Nozzle Extension" (PDF). American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  12. ^ David Iranzo-Greus (2005-03-23). "Ariane 5 – A European Launcher for Space Exploration" (PowerPoint presentation). EADS SPACE Transportation. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  13. ^ "EADS N.V. – EADS welcomes contract signature for 30 Ariane 5 launchers at ILA 2004 in Berlin" (Press release). EADS. 2004-05-10. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  14. ^ "Three billion Euros contract for 30 Ariane 5 launchers – EADS Astrium" (Press release). EADS Astrium. 2004-05-10. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  15. ^ "Volvo Aero’s sandwich space technology passes important milestone" (Press release). Volvo Aero. June 17, 2007. 
  16. ^ a b "ESA – Launch Vehicles – Vulcain Engine". European Space Agency. 2005-11-29. Retrieved 2006-12-16. 
  17. ^ "Volvo Aero: Vulcain – characteristics". Volvo Aero. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  18. ^ "ESA – Launch Vehicles – Ariane 5 ECA". European Space Agency. Retrieved 2006-12-16. 

External links[edit]

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