Arianespace’s much-needed new Ariane 6 rocket will be available for launches in 2022.
Arianespace’s CEO Stéphane Israël, speaking at the Euroconsult World Satellite Business Week in Paris, told delegates that the giant rocket would make its full test flight in the second-half of 2022. He was not specific as to when. However, there would be a ground-based so-called ‘hot test’ in the first half of 2022.
The problem is that the current iteration of the rocket, the extremely reliable Ariane-5 version, which is needed for European Space Agency scientific and government cargoes as well as commercial satellite launches only has 5 rockets remaining in its production manifest.
Israël said that usage of the existing Ariane-5 versions would last for 2022 or early 2023 and that there would be some overlap between usage of the two versions.
“There will be no delay in Ariane 6 because we are now in the very last mile leading to the launch,” he told delegates.
On December 7th the European Space Agency had indicated that the debut launch of Ariane-6 was not expected until about Q3/2022 which was again a further delay for the vehicle.
Other comments from panellists reminded delegates that Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, as well as Russia’s Proton heavy-lift rocket and the smaller Soyuz rocket were available to clients. However, there were anxieties over Russia’s potential involvement in the Ukraine would could lead to political challenges for Russia (or Kazakhstan) launches which would create problems for the market.