The first Ariane 6 rocket is assembled

With a little delay, she is there, standing on her firing line. On Monday October 17, ArianeGroup announced that it had finished assembling the entire first Ariane 6 in Kourou, French Guiana. “Ariane 6 is now topped off, fully assembledwelcomed Philippe Baptiste, head of Cnes. This new step is one more step towards the qualification of this new launch system awaited by all of Europe. »

A dress rehearsal, technical and human

This first rocket is a test model, which is used for so-called “combined” tests, that is to say of all the elements. This is to ensure that the tanks fill well, that the engines ignite as expected, that the vibrations do not shake the structure too much or that the links are good between the rocket and the operators on the ground. In short, a dress rehearsal, both technical and human.

The vertical recovery of the central part of the rocket, assembled horizontally, took place last July. In early October, the upper composite topped the structure, with a satellite model to simulate the loads to be deployed in space. This first model displays a so-called “Ariane 64” configuration, with four boosters, the auxiliary thrusters. The rocket will also exist in a smaller version, with only two boosters, to carry less cargo into orbit.

A reignitable but not reusable rocket

Designed to take over from the flagship Ariane 5, this new launcher was to take off in 2020. The health crisis linked to Covid-19 and delays finally postponed the first flight, expected at best for the first half of 2023. Unlike SpaceX rockets , Ariane 6 is not reusable.

But, main novelty of this version compared to the old one, the engine can be reignited to disseminate the satellites in several points of space. A useful contribution as the constellations multiply. Last spring, the giant Amazon signed a contract for at least 18 satellite launches from its Kuiper constellation, which should provide Internet and telecom coverage.


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