The new, additional stage will “further increase the versatility of Ariane 6 and enhance performance for new types of mission,” ArianeGroup said. It was picked as prime contractor by the European Space Agency (ESA). The contract is worth €90 million and involves a number of smaller firms and start-ups, ArianeGroup said, including Berlin-based PTS, RST in Rostock, and the Austrian FACC.
The additional stage can be placed between the upper stage of the rocket – or the Ariane Double Launch System (DLS) – and the payload. It will increase Ariane 6’s capability to inject satellites directly into geostationary orbit (GEO), ArianeGroup said. It will also allow electrically-powered satellites to reach their orbits in a few hours instead of in a few months, and facilitate missions to the Moon and deep space.
The first flight of an Ariane 6 with the kick-stage is scheduled for 2024.