Safran’s SpaceNaute Navigation System Chosen for New Ariane 6 Launch Vehicle
Safrans SpaceNaute Navigation System Chosen for New Ariane 6 Launch Vehicle

Following a competitive bidding process, Safran Electronics & Defence, the European leader in navigation systems, was selected by Airbus Safran Launchers to supply the SpaceNaute inertial reference system for Ariane 6, the new-generation launch vehicle now being developed for the European Space Agency (ESA).

The first systems will be delivered in time for the first Ariane 6 launch, scheduled for 2020. Safran Electronics & Defence will ramp-up production to sustain an annual rate of 11 launches, starting in 2023.

The SpaceNaute inertial reference system is based on the hemispherical resonator gyro (HRG), a breakthrough technology patented by Safran. Already widely used in aviation, space and defence applications, this technology will be the core of an innovative system architecture.

With no moving parts, the SpaceNaute system offers excellent performance and very high reliability, even under the harsh conditions – mechanical, thermal, electromagnetic and radiation – of a rocket launch. The system is also significantly smaller and lighter than previous generation inertial systems, especially those based on ring laser gyros (RLG) and fibre-optic gyros (FOG).

The excellent cost-effectiveness of Safran Electronics & Defence’s solution proved to be a decisive factor in the selection by Airbus Safran Launchers, prime contractor for Ariane 6, since it helps limit launcher costs. The SpaceNaute system is in fact based on technologies developed for commercial aviation applications.

SpaceNaute joins a complete family of HRG-based navigation systems designed by Safran Electronics & Defence: SkyNaute for civil aviation, BlueNaute for maritime navigation and Sigma 20 for land vehicles. In short, the selection of SpaceNaute confirms the tremendous potential of this innovative technology for new-generation platforms operating on land, at sea, in the air or in space.

Safran Electronics & Defence is a major contributor to Europe’s ambitious space programs. For over 50 years, the company has supplied inertial navigation systems for launch vehicles, to support the European Space Agency and industry, especially Airbus Safran Launchers


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