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Arianespace revises testing schedule for Ariane-6

October 23, 2023

Josef Aschbacher, Director General at the European Space Agency (ESA), says that planned pre-launch testing schedule for the new Ariane 6 rocket has been amended in order to “optimise” the timetable.

Aschbacher said: “In order to optimise the #Ariane6 testing schedule, the test sequence has been inverted. This allows us to anticipate the launch rehearsal test, followed by the long-duration firing test of the main stage Vulcain 2.1 engine, and ultimately reduces any impact on the overall schedule.”

The new Ariane 6 rocket is expected to make its debut flight towards the end of 2024.

The new timetable was agreed by the Ariane 6 Launcher Task Force which comprises officials from ESA as well as French space agency CNES, as the launch base prime contractor, of ArianeGroup as the launcher system prime contractor and of Arianespace as the launch service provider.

The next key milestones are now:
· October: Combined test, launch rehearsal with ignition of the main stage to take place at Kourou, in French Guiana
· November: Combined test, long-duration firing of the main stage with Vulcain 2.1 engine, also at Kourou, French Guiana
· December: Upper stage firing test, at Lampoldshausen, Germany

Aschbacher’s report continued: “During the preparatory operations for the next test, the long-duration firing test, initially planned on 3 October in Kourou, an anomaly has been detected on the core stage’s hydraulic group. This equipment made by SABCA (Belgium) is part of the Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system of the core stage. The role of the TVC system is to maintain the launcher’s correct attitude by gimballing the Vulcain 2.1 engine during its operation. Activation of the TVC is part of the long duration firing test.”

“A group of experts has been tasked to analyse and propose solutions to resolve the anomaly, characterised by an abnormal internal pressure of the hydraulic group. Because of the time needed by the experts to disassemble the equipment, assess the problem and determine the root cause, the schedule for Ariane 6 launch rehearsals has been adapted. In order to optimise the schedule the test sequence has been inverted leading to the anticipation of the launch rehearsal test under different environmental conditions followed by the long-duration firing test of the main stage Vulcain 2.1 engine,” added the report.

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