IAC 2022 Paris: ArianeGroup introduces reusable upper-stage concept SUSIE

by | Sep 20, 2022 | commercial launch services, Technology

ArianeGroup unveiled SUSIE, its reusable Smart Upper Stage for Innovative Exploration, on the first day of the International Space Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Paris, France. The new concept design is a combined spacecraft and reusable upper stage, which Ariane envisages will be used to carry cargo or a crew to low Earth orbit (LEO) before returning back to Earth via a propulsive vertical landing.

ArianeGroup’s Joost Van Tooren, Marco Prampolini and Morena Bernardini pose next to a model Ariane 6 with SUSIE attached at IAC 2022 hosted in Paris, France. Courtesy: Seradata/Farah Ghouri.

At 12 metres long with a diameter of five metres, SUSIE is designed to be spacious enough to accommodate up to five astronauts or 40 m3 of cargo. At 7,000 kg, its payload capacity is also sizeable. The upper stage, which replaces the launcher fairing, will be built for a wide range of missions from delivering resources to space stations and upgrading satellites, to facilitating in-orbit activities including crew changeovers. SUSIE will be launched by the first-stage/boosters plus second-stage combination of the standard Ariane 6 which, the group said, would not require any modifications for the automated freighter version of the rocket.

Artist’s impression showing deployment of SUSIE by injection stage. Courtesy: ArianeGroup

For human flights some minor changes to the launcher and ground segment would be needed (Ariane 5 was originally designed to carry humans via the stalled Hermes mini-shuttle concept). The French company revealed longer-term and more ambitious plans. Most notably, SUSIE spacecraft/stage could be matched with a more powerful reusable first stage to make a nearly fully reusable rocket system (an orbital injection stage may still be needed). In effect, this nearly copies the fully reusable SpaceX Superbooster/Starship heavy-lift design albeit in a smaller launch vehicle. There are also hopes that SUSIE could eventually be used for journeys to the Moon with the addition of a space transfer module, which would give it the propulsion, energy and air supply to allow the rocket to reach lunar orbit.

A video showing ArianeGroup’s new concept SUSIE is played for an audience at IAC 2022. Courtesy: Seradata/Farah Ghouri

Before SUSIE’s development can begin, ArianeGroup needs the approval of member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) at a ministerial level council meeting taking place later this year. The reusable upper stage has been designed with Europe’s space exploration ambitions in mind. Morena Bernardini, ArianeGroup’s strategy and innovation lead, said Susie was “capable of contributing to independent access to space, and also to open the door to European space exploration and address commercial and institutional needs for services in space over the coming decades.”

This story was written by Farah Ghouri in Paris with additional material from David Todd in London

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

SATELLITE 2019: Arianespace orders the first 14 production units of new Ariane 6 rocket

Having finally received the fixed number of "institutional launches" that the company needed, Arianespace have officially placed an order for Read more

ESA commits to using Ariane 6 allowing ArianeGroup to start 14 rocket batch

The European Space Agency has formally ordered seven Ariane 6 flights to take place between 2021 and 2023. The order has Read more

Arianespace lowers Ariane 5 launch price to combat SpaceX in Asia-Pacific contest

It has been reported by Reuters that Arianespace has lowered the launch price of its mainstay Ariane 5 launch vehicle, Read more

ArianeGroup to reduce workforce by a quarter by natural wastage

ArianeGroup, the European conglomerate jointly owned by Airbus and Safran that is in charge of producing Europe’s main launch vehicles, has announced Read more

Last 10 Ariane 5 rockets are ordered leaving 23…as Arianespace looks next to Ariane 6

The last ten Ariane 5 rockets have now been formally ordered from ArianeGroup - the joint firm formerly known as Airbus Safran launchers. Read more

Airbus Safran Launchers announces rebranding for itself and subsidiaries…introducing ArianeGroup

Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), the joint venture launch vehicle and rocket engine manufacturing firm owned by major European space industry players, Read more

Ariane 5 ES ATV launched: all the pictures and video

Hyperbola is a technology orientated spaceflight blog written by Flight technical editor Rob Coppinger

Ariane 5 ES ATV: all the official pictures

Hyperbola is a technology orientated spaceflight blog written by Flight technical editor Rob Coppinger