Advanced Television

Ariane 6’s wet dress rehearsal

June 26, 2024

The launch of the European Space Agency’s all-new Ariane 6 rocket gets ever-closer. Last week technicians at ESA’s Kourou, French Guiana spaceport completed a full ‘wet’ dress rehearsal of the rocket which was fully fuelled.

The rocket took on about 180 metric tonnes of propellant and all was subsequently drained following the tests which included a full countdown and final checks of the many systems other than the final launch.

The actual debut launch of the massive rocket is currently scheduled for July 9th and all is progressing according to plan said ESA’s DG Josef Aschbacher.

“The wet dress rehearsal is the very final milestone before launch,” said Guy Pilchen, Ariane 6 launcher project manager at ESA. The test, a standard practice for new launch vehicles, allows engineers “to fine-tune the delicate operations required up until liftoff, using the real rocket’s actual flight hardware and software for the first time,” he added.

The data gathered from the wet dress rehearsal were scheduled to take at least a week to analyse in full. Today (June 26th) will see the analysis of the test data completed and final tuning of the rocket’s systems prior to launch.

However, there’s no denying that the very late arrival of the rocket has placed extreme strains on ESA’s scientific and governmental mission requirements. The rocket is more than a year late and ESA’s overall schedules have not been helped by the non-availability of ESA’s Vega-C rocket which suffered a failure some 18 months ago and is not likely to return to availability until later this year.

Few doubt the pressure is on Ariane and its ESA pay-masters, technical partners and ArianeGroup. Meanwhile, SpaceX goes from strength to strength. June 24th saw SpaceX launch its 1000th satellite this year to date. According to US space agency AmericaSpace, this event marked B1078’s 11th flight and the fastest turnaround yet, at only 26 days. On June 25th it launched a weather satellite, and this meant a flawless dual landing of the Falcon 9’s two boosters.

Categories: Blogs, Inside Satellite, Satellite

Tags: , ,