FERMAT & The Space Age

August 2, 2017  
Artist's view of the two configurations of Ariane 6_source_ESA–David Ducros, 2017

Artist’s view of the two configurations of Ariane 6.  Source: ESA–David Ducros, 2017

It’s easy to forget that without machine tools, there’s no modernity.  Everything would be done by hand, with tools made by hand.  No computers, no cars, no electricity, and for most of us, no clothing, shelter or food.  That said, we can all agree machine tools are extremely important.   And, as there are calls for man to explore new frontiers in space and colonize other planets (with or without Stephen Hawking’s bleak and dire warnings), we must rely on our own sharp wits, and powerful and precise machine tools, to craft our spaceships.

FERMAT has been chosen by a joint venture tapped to build the European Space Agency’s new Ariane 6 launch vehicle.  FERMAT’s WF 13 R CNC will be used to finely machine the metal components of the rocket’s structural system, which is similar to the fuselage of an airplane.  This diagram below, provided by ESA’s friendly rival, explains the sections of a rocket’s composition.

Rocket parts


This popular, lighter version of FERMAT’s WRF series floor-type horizontal boring mills is designed for powerful and precise machining of large, bulky, and heavy workpieces of cast iron and steel.  It can be equipped with floor plates, CNC rotary tables, and a whole line of accessories enhancing production.  WF 13 R CNC has a spindle diameter of 130 mm, spindle travel of 730 mm, and a ram stroke of 700 mm.  With column travel up to 22 meters along the X axis and vertical headstock travel up to 3 meters along the Y axis, WF 13 R CNC affords excellent machining of the workpiece over a wide area, and deep into the center of the workpiece.

And speaking of workpieces, this one’s out of this world!

European Space Agency

In announcing the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle on its website, the European Space Agency (ESA) stated, “The overarching aim of Ariane 6 is to provide guaranteed access to space for Europe at a competitive price without requiring public sector support for exploitation.” And further, “The targeted payload performance of Ariane 6 is over 4.5 t for polar/Sun-synchronous orbit missions at 800 km altitude and the injection of two first-generation Galileo satellites. Ariane 6 can loft a payload mass of 4.5–10.5 tonnes in equivalent geostationary transfer orbit.”  That’s a tall order, but one which ESA feels is absolutely achievable with its manufacturing partners.

The new launch vehicle will utilize the tried-and-true engine of Ariane 5; and, the first flight is scheduled for some time in 2020.

Here are the specs for Ariane 6, as put forward by ESA.

“The total length of the vehicle is about 62 m;

The cryogenic main stage holds about 150 t of propellants, the upper stage holds about 30 t;

The external diameter of the cryogenic main stage and upper stages including the part that connects the fairing is about 5.4 m.”

(source: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Transportation/Launch_vehicles/Ariane_6)

Please visit, http://www.fermatmachinery.com/products, for information on the different FERMAT machine tools and accessories that can improve your manufacturing business. Also, try to Build Your Own machine using our on-line configurator found on our homepage, http://www.fermatmachinery.com/. Should you have any enquiries, please send us an e-mail: export@fermatmachinery.com, or for the U.S. market, e-mail Lucas Precision, a FERMAT Group company: sales@lucasprecision.com, or call toll-free: 1-800-336-1262, or telephone in the U.S.: (216) 451-5588, or send us a fax (216) 451-5174.