Rome, June 29, 2022 – Today, the first two contracts for Italy’s implementation of the “Next Gen EU” initiatives for space have been awarded to Avio. In recent months, the Italian government had decided to invest around 340 million euros to improve the technological capacity of Italian industry for “access to space”, entrusting the European Space Agency ( ESA) as contracting authority supervising the Prime Minister’s Office, the Italian Space Agency and the Ministry of Innovation and Digital Transformation. The objective is to leverage existing capabilities established in Italy since the early 2000s through the Vega, Vega C and Vega E programs to develop next-generation propulsion technologies and launch system architectures.

The contracts were signed at the headquarters of the Ministry of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition in Rome, in the presence of Minister Vittorio Colao, ESA Launchers Director Daniel Neuenschwander and Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo.

With these two contracts, two key development programs are now starting, the first, endowed with €217.5 million at completion, devoted to the development by 2026 of an in-flight demonstrator of new technologies and architectures for a small propulsion launcher liquid in orbit powered by green LOX-methane engines. The second, financed to the tune of €120 million in the long term, devoted to the development of a new high-thrust LOX-methane green engine to be tested on the ground by 2026 for qualification. On these two development strands, Avio will be able to take advantage of past experience in cryogenic LOX-methane propulsion which began many years ago in cooperation with the Italian Space Agency and recently led to the first ground test. successful in Europe for this type of rocket motor.

LOX-methane technologies, given their clean combustion characteristics, are perfectly suited for potential reuse and today allow wide use of single-material/one-piece 3D printed manufacturing. Initial work orders to cover the next few months of work have been signed for a total amount of approximately €11 million.

The goal of both projects is to set the stage for next-generation space transportation systems beyond Vega E, based on green (potentially reusable) liquid propulsion technology. The projects will be led by Avio as prime contractor in light of its extensive past experience as a systems developer, and will be supported by an Italian industrial supply chain as well as Italian research centers and universities. . Avio also plans to engage with innovative start-ups and SMEs to accelerate the development cycle. In parallel, an ambitious recruiting plan was launched in early 2022 to upgrade Avio’s engineering and operations talent pool with highly skilled resources, leading to over 150 new hires to date out of a population total of approximately 1100 employees. Further opportunities for skilled and motivated young engineers will become available over the next 12 months.

Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo commented: “Thanks to these very important contracts, Avio will be able to extend its capabilities in next-generation liquid-propelled launchers well beyond


Vega E, setting the stage for increased competitiveness for the next decade. The in-flight demonstrator and a high-thrust engine are the key elements which, combined with a solid past experience in systems and propulsion, will improve the flexibility and profitability of our products and solutions. Italy will thus have fully-fledged capabilities to meet any demand for space launch and transport in space”.

ESA Launcher Director Daniel Neuenschwander commented: “Vega is a key strategic asset contributing to Europe’s freedom of action in space. With the imminent maiden flight of Vega C, the preparation of Vega E and now the signing of these contracts to prepare the next generation of “multi-purpose, competitive craft and increasingly environmentally friendly launch services will be offered to the market. ESA, as the qualifying authority, supports the forthcoming clear plan for future space transportation services “

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Aviation in a nutshell

Avio is a leading international group engaged in the construction and development of space launchers and solid and liquid propulsion systems for space travel. The experience and know-how accumulated over more than 50 years place Avio at the forefront of the space launcher sector, solid, liquid and cryogenic propulsion and tactical propulsion. Avio operates in Italy, France and France Guyana with 5 sites, employing approx. 1,000 highly qualified employees, including approx. 30% involved in research and development. Avio is prime contractor for the Vega program and contractor for the Ariane program, both funded by the European Space Agency (“ESA”), placing Italy among the limited number of countries capable of producing a complete spacecraft.