European Space Agency (ESA) is making significant progress in its plans to launch the first Ariane 6 rocket. The agency has announced that it will set a target launch period for the rocket in October, following a pair of static-fire tests in French Guiana.
The first test, scheduled for Sept. 5, will last for four seconds and will be followed by a longer 470-second test on Oct. 3. If these tests are successful, the ESA will be able to define a launch period for Ariane 6. Despite previous delays and technical issues, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher remains optimistic about the launch, stating that it will happen “not too late” in 2024.
In a recent achievement, the program successfully conducted a static-fire test of the Ariane 6’s Vinci upper stage engine on Sept. 1 in Germany. However, a final static-fire test of the upper stage is still planned for this fall to assess its performance under “degraded” conditions.
The Ariane 6 rocket already has a promising future, with 28 launches scheduled in Arianespace’s order book. Among the customers, Amazon is the largest with 18 launches scheduled. The cost of Ariane 6 development, including contingency, remains at around 4 billion euros, which the ESA has not exceeded.
In addition to the Ariane 6 updates, the ESA provided an update on the Vega C small launch vehicle, which has been grounded since a launch failure in December 2022. Although grounded, Arianespace is moving forward with a launch of the original version of Vega on Oct. 4. This launch will not utilize the problematic Zefiro 40 motor.
Overall, the ESA’s progress in the field of space exploration and rocket launches is commendable. With the upcoming static-fire tests and the announcement of a launch period, the agency is on track to achieve its goals. The success of the Ariane 6 rocket holds great promise for the future of space exploration and commercial launches.
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