Dutch rocket ignition specialist Aerospace Propulsion Products (APP) will design the ignition system for a restartable upper-stage engine for Europe’s current Ariane 5 rocket under a contract with Ariane 5 prime contractor Astrium Space Transportation, APP announced July 14.

Under the contract, valued at about 3 million euros ($3.8 million), Klundert-based APP will carry development of an ignition system for the Vinci motor through the preliminary design review, set for late 2011.

Vinci is the centerpiece of what the European Space Agency calls the Ariane 5 Mid-life Evolution program. Full development of Vinci has not been approved. European space ministers are scheduled to meet in 2012 to decide whether to develop the Vinci-powered stage, which will increase Ariane 5’s payload-carrying capacity and permit the injection of several satellites into different orbital planes.

APP, a subsidiary of the Netherlands’ largest applied research organization, TNO, also is developing pyrogen igniters for the solid-fueled stages of Europe’s Vega small-satellite launcher, scheduled to begin operations in 2011. Since 1995, the company has been producing igniters and starters for the current Ariane 5 rocket’s main-stage Vulcain cryogenic engine.