Happy New Year dear readers!
What an incredible and pleasurable journey we experienced. Exciting companies, fine views and new perspectives on both ourselves and the environment. Safran Aircraft Engines (Snecma S.A) in Vernon, France offered just this – perspective.
Snecma develops and produces engines for aircraft, satellites and launch rockets. They also offer MRO (Maintenance Repair & Overhaul) business. Snecma has about 15,700 employees at 35 production and MRO facilities throughout the world.
So, what to Snecma do in Vernon and how is this related to GKN in Trollhättan? Well, Snecma in Vernon is responsible for the final assembly of the Ariane 5 launcher engine, VULCAIN 2. As you probably know, the producer of the nozzle for this engine is actually GKN Aerospace in Trollhättan. GKN Aerospace is the European Space Agency’s “center of excellence” for the space nozzles and turbines for the Ariane rocket. In short, we are good at what we do here in Trollhättan which has paved the way for an effective and long-term cooperation with those involved in the Ariane rocket propulsion technology since its start-up in the 70’s.
At our visit we had the pleasure to meet a very charismatic and eloquent guide, and apart from the perceived language barrier we experienced a very instructive and interesting tour of the Snecma facilities. We got a closer insight into the engines of Ariane 5’s predecessor, Ariane 4 but also the future Ariane 6 rocket. We learned a lot of history surrounding rocket technology and we got to see both successful and less successful designs of the previous attempts of various rocket designs. After struggling to fit into various smocks and hairnets we had the pleasure go into the premises where the final assembly of the VULCAIN 2 took place, and more sterile premises than those one have to look a long time for.
On Snecma’s area in Vernon there is also a test facility for the final assembled motors. This test facility was about the size of an Ariane rocket (about 50 meters high). After seeing a movie of an earlier engine test we were certainly impressed by the fact that the forest behind the building still stood untouched. These incredible forces that are generated and channeled through GKN’s nozzles makes one feel small. The fact that the nozzle even holds is admirable considering that the exhaust temperature is approximately 30% of the sun’s surface temperature.
Humans may be small, but we can achieve great wonders!