Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), the new company behind the Arianespace launch business, says it is on course for a debut test flight of its all-new giant Ariane-6 rocket in 2020.
Alain Charmeau, chief executive of ASL, is reported saying he is “extremely confident” the Ariane 6 will be ready for a maiden test flight by the end of 2020, and will fully replace the Ariane 5 in 2023.
The rocket, still very much in its design stage, was given a major design review in June, but ASL engineers are not minimising the work still to be done as they create a rocket that is – at least –partly re-usable and a financial competitor to the now flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Between the 2020 1st test flight the production and engineering teams have to gear up for a planned 2023 commercial replacement of the current Ariane-5 system. The aim is for Arianespace to target 11-12 flights a year, and in the process carry about double that number of missions into space.