ESA starts testing the second stage of Ariane 6

Representatives of the European Space Agency (ESA) and ArianeSpace announced the start of firing tests of the upper stage of the Ariane 6 carrier. This is an important step towards putting a new carrier into operation.

New ESA rocket

The Ariane 6 rocket should replace the Ariane 6 carrier, which for many years has been the main “workhorse” of ESA. It will be produced in two main versions Ariane 62 and Ariane 64 equipped, respectively, with two and four solid-fuel boosters. Ariane 62 will be able to carry up to 10.3 tons of cargo to low Earth orbit (LEO) and up to 5 tons to geotransfer, Ariane 64 — up to 21.6 tons to LEO and up to 11.5 tons to geotransfer.

Ariane 6 rocket (Ariane 64 and Ariane 62 modifications) in the artist’s image. Source: ESA

Initially, the debut of Ariane 6 was supposed to take place back in 2020. However, difficulties with the manufacture of various components of the rocket and the consequences of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic led to the fact that the date of the first flight of the rocket was shifted several times. At the moment, it is scheduled for 2023.

Ariane 6 upper stage fire tests

Firing tests of the upper stage of the Ariane 6 are carried out at the test site in Lampoldshausen, owned by the German Aviation and Space Center (DLR). During the tests, engineers will carefully study its behavior and the operating parameters of the Vinci engine installed on it. It has the ability to re-enable in space, which allows taking satellites from different customers into different orbits, and then bring the spent stage out of orbit so that it does not become an object of space debris.

Burning of the upper stage of Ariane 6. Source: ESA

In total, ESA and ArianeSpace plan to conduct four fire tests of the stage. After that, it will be delivered to the ESTEC test center in the Netherlands, where it will undergo a series of acoustic and vibration tests. Upon their completion, the stage will go to the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana, where it will be prepared for the upcoming launch. 

According to

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