THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Collaboration being the global buzzword these days in space exploration, the ISRO is turning its gaze Europe-wards. Top VSSC officers and Paris-based ArianeGroup on Saturday met at VSSC, Thumba, and held discussions to identify areas for possible collaboration.
ArianeGroup builds and operates the Ariane family of launch vehicles and is the European Space Agency’s (ESA) primary contractor for the futuristic Prometheus rocket engine. VSSC director K Sivan, who called his meeting with Marc Vales, head, Future Programmes, ArianeGroup, a ‘’brainstorming session’’, said a couple of possible areas for collaboration were explored, including the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) programme. ‘’Our RLV programme is in its preliminary stages. They too have a similar one. It will be of use for both groups,’’ he said. Vales was here for the two-day ASET 2017 international conference organised by the Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI).
Among other things, ISRO also has shown interest in the ESA’s planned Prometheus rocket engine which uses methane as propellant along with liquid oxygen (LOX). Sivan attributed ISRO’s interest to the reusability potential of the engine. He declined to divulge more details about Saturday’s discussions but stressed nothing has been finalised. ‘’We discussed potential areas where collaboration was possible. The details will be passed on to the ISRO management,’’ he said.
Vales told Express both agencies have identified topics for collaboration. ArianeGroup builds and operates the Ariane 5 rocket, one of the best-known of its type, for ESA. Currently, it is developing the Ariane 6.
The Prometheus project began as a collaboration between French space agency CNES and ArianeGroup in 2015, but has since then taken on a wider, more European character. India’s collaboration with France in space-related matters goes back to the Viking engine, which was the model for the Vikas engine used in the PSLV and GSLV.