Live broadcast of the first launch of Ariane 6

Today is an important day for Europe. ESA will launch the new Ariane 6 rocket for the first time. The Universe Space Tech editorial team tells you how to watch the live broadcast of this event and why it is so important.

A new rocket for independent Europe

In recent years, Europe’s space industry has been experiencing a serious crisis related to the loss of independent access to space. It is caused by a combination of several factors. Firstly, the Ariane 5 rocket, which had been a faithful workhorse of ESA for a quarter of a century, was decommissioned. At the same time, its replacement, Ariane 6, was not ready in time.

The Ariane 6 rocket on the launch pad. Source: ESA-L. Bourgeon

Secondly, Europe rashly relied on cooperation with Roscosmos. Many European satellites were launched using Russian rockets, which was very painful for ESA after February 2022, when the organisation had to sever all ties with the aggressor country.

If we add to this the recent accident of the Vega light rocket, we get a rather unattractive picture in which Europe is left without independent access to space. No wonder so much attention is focused on the upcoming Ariane 6 launch. The new rocket should help to remedy the situation and restore Europe’s space independence.

Live broadcast of the Ariane 6 launch

Ariane 6 is scheduled to make its debut launch on 9 July. The four-hour flight window will open at 21:00 Kyiv time. The launch will be broadcast live on YouTube and the ESA website.

During its first mission, ESA will test a medium-weight Ariane 62. It will carry nine cubesats provided by various European companies and research institutions.

The plan for the upcoming flight is as follows. At the first stage, the upper stage of Ariane 6, together with the payload, will be placed into an intermediate elliptical orbit with a perigee altitude of 300 km and an apogee altitude of 700 km. The upper stage will then re-activate the engine and enter a circular 580-kilometre orbit, after which the cubesats will be separated.

Ariane 6 maiden flight plan. Source: ESA

At the final stage, engineers will activate the upper stage engine again and put it on a trajectory that ensures controlled sinking in the South Pacific. Before re-entry, the stage will jettison two capsules. They are part of an experiment to test the technologies and materials needed to return cargo from space. During the descent, the capsules will transmit information via satellite. They are not equipped with parachutes, and there are no plans to return them.

It is worth noting that ESA is currently making very cautious predictions about the upcoming flight. The organisation’s CEO, Josef Aschbacher, estimated the chances of success at just over 50%. But of course, everyone expects the new rocket to perform at its best.