Space success stories
From launcher booster engine nozzles to external liquid fuel tanks, Constellium products have been used in some of mankind’s most exciting extra‑terrestrial missions. Through close technical collaboration with designers and manufacturers of space systems, Constellium is able to provide material solutions that help ensure safe and reliable space flights.
Constellium partnered with Snecma Propulsion Solide (Safran Group) to develop a groundbreaking solution for the very large housings required on the heavy‑payload Ariane 5 launcher.
The housings are critical to enabling the rocket’s flight and control during vertical launch. Three different aluminium castings now form part of the nozzle of the launcher’s booster engine. The castings, made of high-strength alloys, offers substantial cost savings compared to the previous forged and welded pieces.
Constellium developed these aluminium housings using innovative digital channel tools, such as stress calculation and solidification simulation.
US company SpaceX was founded in 2002 to provide reliable, low-cost space transportation. Its partnership with Constellium started during the development of its lightweight launcher, Falcon 1, for which we provided our low-density, high-strength AIRWARE® technology (AIRWARE® 2198, AIRWARE® 2196 and AIRWARE® 2195).
SpaceX has since developed a heavy-payload launcher called Falcon 9, which uses AIRWARE® technology extensively for structural components. Its first flight took place in 2010.
Almost the entire first and second stages of the launcher are made from our materials, with longitudinal seams on both the launcher and Dragon space vehicle joined by Friction Stir Welding. The same welding process is used to weld domes made from our AIRWARE® 2195 and 2219 alloys to the barrel sections. The domes are manufactured by spin forming.
The use of our latest alloys, which offer 5% lower density than previous alloys, 5% higher stiffness and 17% higher strength, is calculated to have increased the Falcon 9 launcher payload by nearly 1,000 kg.
The Orion crew vehicle was designed as part of the Constellation program for a new generation of space vehicles for manned flights to the International Space Station, the moon, and Mars.
Although the US administration subsequently announced that it would seek Congressional approval to cancel the program, NASA and its prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, had identified our advanced alloys as the best solution to their material needs for the Orion crew vehicle, as opposed to using composites.
They selected AIRWARE® 2195 for spars, diagonal structures and components, and our new AIRWARE® 2050 for other structural sections, including frames, ribs and a window section. Both offer advantages of toughness and strength, with significant weight savings.
Constellium provides advanced material solutions that help ensure safe and reliable space flights.