Arianespace has started building the first of a batch of 14 of its new Ariane-6 series of rockets. The news was delivered at the Satellite 2019 show in Washington, with Ariane saying that production of this initial batch maintains their anticipated readiness for launches in the 2021-2023 time-frame.
These new versions will fly alongside existing supplies of Ariane 5 rockets while stocks last. The maiden flight of Ariane 6 (an Ariane 62 version) is slated for next year, 2020.
The project is – in effect – underwritten by orders from the European Space Agency.
Andre-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, said: “Starting work on the first Ariane 6 series-production batch, less than four years after signing the development contract with ESA in August 2015, is a real success for the European space industry as a whole. We have made the necessary efforts to set up a new, more efficient and competitive European industrial organization in record time. We can now ensure the ramp-up of Ariane 6 production and prepare for its launch operations. Our customers are eagerly awaiting Ariane 6, and it will be delivered on time. I am particularly grateful to the teams at ArianeGroup, Arianespace, and our industrial partners throughout Europe who – each in their area of responsibility – work hand-in-hand to make the development, production, and marketing of the launcher possible. I also extend my warmest thanks to the European Space Agency, its member states and the national space agencies for their continued support in this great adventure, which is just beginning.”