Constructed using 3D printing technology, the Prometheus is a liquid-fueled rocket engine demonstrator that is intended as the model for the next generation of potentially reusable propulsion systems suitable for a wide variety of launch vehicles.
Being developed for ESA by ArianeGroup, it promises to be the precursor to rocket engines that are cheaper and more flexible than current designs.
ESA is betting that Prometheus will lead to new engines that are 10 times cheaper to manufacture than the current main stage Ariane 5 Vulcain 2 engine thanks to a design-to-cost approach to development.
According to the space agency, the Prometheus can be used for both the main and upper stages of launch vehicles, it has variable thrust, can carry out multiple ignitions and needs only minimal ground operations before and after flight.
ESA says that in the short term, technology developed for Prometheus may be applied to operational engines.