November 30, 2023

Ariane 6 joint update report | 30/11/2023

The Ariane 6 Launcher Task Force consists of top management of ESA, as the overall Ariane 6 procuring entity and launch system architect, of the French space agency CNES, as the launch base prime contractor, of ArianeGroup as the launcher system prime contractor and of Arianespace as the launch service provider. This group reports regularly on progress being made towards inaugural flight of the new Ariane 6 launcher.

Key milestones towards inaugural flight

On the way towards the first flight of Ariane 6 two more rehearsals have been conducted since the last joint update:

23 October 2023: Combined test loading, Kourou, French Guiana

The combined loading test 2.1 (CTLO 2.1) was the third time the Ariane 6 teams practiced a full launch countdown, this test concentrated on system robustness and how well Ariane 6 and the teams handle situations at the edge of the operational parameters with operations performed at night to test operations in cooler ambient temperatures. The test lasted over 30 hours and consisted of a full launch chronology enriched by qualification tests on several launch system functions including ventilation of cavities, launch range interfaces, and environmental characterisation.

23 November 2023: Combined test, long-duration firing of the core stage with Vulcain 2.1 engine, Kourou, French Guiana

The combined hot-firing test (CTHF) was conducted with the test model of Ariane 6 on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. It consisted of a major full-scale rehearsal of a complete launch timeline, followed by more than 7 minutes of stabilized operation covering the entire core stage flight phase. The planned operations took around 24 hours with an engine ignition 12 hours after starting operations.  

The test was a complete success as all functional aspects were tested and functioned as expected. it covered all aspects required for qualification.

Next milestones

7 December 2023: Upper stage firing test, Lampoldshausen, Germany

This hot-firing test of the upper stage (HFT4) is planned at the German Aerospace Center, DLR, Lampoldshausen test centre, to examine stage behaviour for different kind of missions, with the exploration of alternative functioning and flight conditions and stage’s operating limits in degraded conditions.

15 December 2023: Combined test loading 3 (CTLO3), Kourou, French Guiana

Teams are working towards another combined test loading (CTLO3) that is set to take place on 15 December. It is again a test representative of a launch chronology, meant for anticipating degraded cases to ensure launcher robustness and for preparing launcher exploitation. The test will end with a short core stage engine ignition.

First flight period

ESA, CNES and ArianeGroup are targeting the first launch of Ariane 6 between mid of June and end of July 2024.

Ariane 6 is an all-new design, created to succeed Ariane 5 as Europe's heavy-lift launch system. With Ariane 6's upper stage restart capability, Europe's launch capability will be tailored to the needs of multiple payload missions, for example to orbit satellite constellations. This autonomous capability to reach Earth orbit and deep space supports Europe's navigation, Earth observation, scientific and security programmes. Ongoing development of Europe's space transportation capabilities is made possible by the sustained dedication of thousands of talented people working in ESA's 22 Member States.

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