ESA confirms summer launch for Ariane 6
February 2, 2024
By Chris Forrester
The first full test launch for the all-new Ariane 6 rocket will happen between June 15th and July 31st this year.
The European Space Agency (ESA) issued a joint report from the Launcher Task Force on progress to date and its schedule for the future as it gears up to the summer test launch for Ariane 6. The Task Force comprises ESA itself, and the CNES Space Agency, Arianespace as well as the Ariane Group which includes the engine manufacturers.
ESA says: “The combined test phase using propellants is over. There is no need for additional tests on the Ariane 6 flight model. We are on track for inaugural launch. On the way towards the first flight of Ariane 6, these milestones have been conducted since the last joint update.”
Past Test phases:
· 30 January 2024: Fuel line and umbilical disconnections, Kourou, French Guiana
· 30 January 2024: HFT-4 Upper stage firing test report, Lampoldshausen, Germany
ESA adds: “Technical investigations are still ongoing concerning the test abort that occurred after two minutes of the upper stage hot-fire test on the Vinci engine (HFT-4) that was performed on 7 December 2023. Based on the results of the analysis performed, we can confirm that the launch period for the Ariane 6 inaugural flight is unchanged.”
The combined test campaign will continue with dismantling operations. This will validate the ability to disassemble the launcher in case anomalies would require a change of a stage of the rocket on the launch pad. These operations include:
· Combined Tests Launcher Dismounting (CTLD) that is required for the launch pad preparation for the Inaugural Flight campaign;
· Dummy Payload Dismounting Test that will be executed in the Hall d’Encapsulation (HE) that is part of the Batiment Assemblage Final (BAF).
· February: The stages for the first Ariane 6 flight will leave Europe and arrive by Canopée ship in French Guiana
There will be a second test flight around mid-winter prior to introduction of commercial flights in 2025.