Most of the people witnessed how SpaceX using their Falcon 9 rocket, on 30th of May 2020, sent a crew of two to ISS(International Space Station). This is an outstanding job for a private company that used its own rocket to send a capsule to orbit. As this has been a huge success and got the USA back to be able to do this kind of missions the European Space Agency(ESA) announced that is developing its own rocket engine.
The Prometheus is a rocket engine that is developed by the ESA since 2017 and aims to be a reusable methane-fueled rocket engine with the technology used previously in the Ariane 6. The idea behind this project is to build a reusable engine that costs no more than 1 million euros.
This rocket engine will run on liquid oxygen – methane with high efficiency allowing standardization and operational simplicity, according to the ESA blog. One important fact is that methane propellant is widely available and easy to manipulate.
“Features such as variable thrust, multiple ignitions, suitability for main and upper stage application, and minimised ground operations before and after flight also make Prometheus a highly flexible engine.” the ESA declared.
Some of the components have been already manufactured: the turbo pump’s turbine, the pump inlet, the gas generator valves, and some main subsystems. Following this, the ESA will soon begin the testing of these hardware components at the DLR German Aerospace Center in Lampoldshausen, Germany.