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Ariane 6 delayed again

October 20, 2022

By Chris Forrester

The European Space Agency (ESA) has admitted that the delayed launched of Arianespace’s new Ariane 6 rocket is not now likely to make its debut flight for another year. The new hope is for a launch in Q4 2023.

Ariane 6 was first planned to launch in July 2020. Covid hasn’t helped, but with the pandemic now relaxed it seems that the €4 billion development is still beset by delays.

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher, speaking at a media briefing on October 19th, said that date emerged from an external review of the rocket’s development established back in May. Worse, perhaps, he cautioned that the Q4 2023 date was not final.

“With a project of this magnitude, it needs to be clear that this is a planned date and that the program will still need to successfully and timely achieve a number of key milestones in order for this schedule to be valid,” he commented.

Ariane 6 is being developed by Ariane Group, a joint venture of Airbus and Safran, on behalf of ESA in an effort to reduce launch costs in the face of new private competition from SpaceX and to secure Europe’s access to space.

The dilemma now is finding alternate rocket launch suppliers to fill the gap for the next year. Arianespace says it has 29 orders in its books for either Ariane 6 or the follow-on Ariane 7 rocket.

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