The Adeline (ADvanced Expendable Launcher with INnovative engine Economy) partly reusable space launcher programme is a concept being developed by Airbus Defence and Space. Adeline will enable the main engines and avionics of the launcher to be recovered and refurbished.
This represents between 70% and 80% of the total value of the launch vehicle. Adeline is therefore a re-entry module rather than a launcher in its own right, which can potentially be adapted to any launcher. The concept could be implemented on the Ariane 6 launcher, for which the current development integrates the “reusability” element. Adeline could even be ‘grafted’ onto any launcher, however large or small.
Adeline, a programme under development
Development and testing of Adeline has been underway by the Space Systems teams since 2010. After simulator testing, the first demonstrators were flight tested, in various conditions, to validate the technical elements ahead of a maiden flight scheduled for 2025. The Space Systems teams were supported by their colleagues in Airbus Defence and Space’s Military Aircraft business line, benefiting from their expertise in the field of remotepiloted aircraft systems (UAVs).
Objectives and benefits of reuse
Given the current level of technology, a reusable system is one of the most important conceivable means of reducing space launcher costs. The main challenge is not so much to be able to recover a launcher after a mission, although this is difficult enough, but above all to ensure the launcher is ready to fly again with the same level of quality and reliability as if it were new, and with a negligible cost of minimal refurbishment.
Adeline is one of the many innovative projects and programmes being run by Airbus Defence and Space to meet the growing demand for flexibility and competitiveness from satellite operators and designed to make space even more sustainable. Reusable projects currently underway include studies on reusable engines and launcher upper stages, which could remain in low orbit, able to ferry several satellites into geostationary orbit one after another.
Find out more about Adeline in this animation.